Final Result of weighted GPA issue

In May 9th school board meeting, after 7 months discussing weighted GPA issue, and after many parents have spent numerous hours doing research and provided data to Dr. McGee and the board members, disappointingly, Dr. McGee provided his recommendation in this meeting where all honors / AP classes won't be weighted for freshmen. Though all the current high school students are grandfathered in.

In this board meeting, board member Todd attempted to set a motion to include 9th grader in the weighted GPA. However, this motion was only supported by board member Melissa, and thus failed to pass with 2:3.

Todd made several excellent comments about this whole saga:
  • We are doing things backwards! As a school board, shouldn't our job be encouraging the students to take honors / AP classes to challenge themselves? No! Instead, we are discouraging them as it's a bad thing.
  • We are making a mountain out of a mole-hole! Don't blame the parents for how long it takes to decide this matter, the fault is completely on us!
For how and why can this matter take 7 months, please check out the 'History of WGPA issue' page.

Side note:
According to "Class of 2019 Parents/Guardians: Notes from 5/5 coffee with Dr. McGee; presentation to sophomore students",  Dr. McGee informed the audience that
"Max and almost all PAUSD professionals are against reporting weighted GPAs, and yet it seems Board and Max are going to approve it because of parent opinions".

It's really worth clarification where this claim "almost all PAUSD professionals" base on? The survey by Dr. McGee actually indicates the opposite if you count both Paly and Gunn together.

Quick Catch Up Receipe
Below is some information to help inform the weighted GPA discussions.

Highlights are below.  Click through the links for graphics, details, sources, methodology, etc.

Before the May 9th decision, Gunn used to weight GPAs without a cap and puts that wGPA on college applications, while Paly placed unweighted GPAs on college applications. Prior to this year, both high schools' transcripts had the unweighted GPA listed.

A.  Overview 
I.  Why Weighted GPAs Help 
  • Colleges popular with PAUSD students, such as University of Oregon, award substantial automatic merit scholarships based on the highest GPA the high school displays on the transcript.
  • 51% of colleges do not recalculate the GPAs high schools send them (per NACAC's 2005 Annual Admission Trend Survey).
Check out more details.
II.  What GPA Method High Schools Use

California's Top 50 High Schools (per Niche):
  • 82% of CA's top 50 high schools weight students' GPAs.
  • Of those that weight, 88% use the Gunn method (1 added point for APs and Honors classes)
In the US, 74% of high schools weight GPAs.

Check out more details.

B.  Paly and Gunn

I.  AP, Honors, and Elective Class Enrollment
Weighted Classes 
      • APs and Honors:
        • Each Paly student filled 1.64 weighted seats.  Each Gunn student filled 1.94 (average, all grades, Fall 2016). (Gunn offers more weighted courses.)
      • Breakdown of weighted courses offered:
        • Paly: 56% Humanities, 41% STEM, 3% Mix
        • Gunn: 58% Humanities, 39% STEM, 3% Mix
Elective Classes
Paly and Gunn's elective enrollment is virtually the same:
  •  Each Paly student filled 2.92 elective seats.  Each Gunn student filled 2.99 (average, all grades, Fall 2016).
  •  Gunn students filled slightly more unweighted elective seats.
  •  They filled the same number of weighted elective seats. 
The types of electives Gunn and Paly students took are similar too:
  •  World Language (Level 3 or above): 13% at both high schools
  •  Arts (Fine & Performing): 23% Paly and 25% Gunn
  •  STEM: 42% Paly and 46% Gunn
Gunn reports weighted GPAs; it does not limit the number of classes which get weights. Paly, at the time this data was collected, did not report weighted GPAs; it effectively capped weighted classes folded into a GPA at zero.

Check out more details.

II. College Admissions

US News' Top 25 Colleges (Matriculation - Class of 2010 through Class of 2015) enrolled more Gunn students (24% of Gunn's senior class and 18% of Paly's).

University of California (Admissions - 1994, 2004, and 2014):
  • Two-thirds (2/3rds) of PAUSD seniors apply to at least one UC campus (~ 600 PAUSD seniors each year).
  • Acceptance to at least one UC over the last two decades has fallen:
    • Gunn (from 93% to 82%). 
    • Paly (from 93% to 73%).
  • At UC's two flagship campuses UC Berkeley and UCLA (their admissions criteria includes the uncapped UC weighted GPA):
    • Gunn students' admit rate exceeds the UC overall CA resident rate (in both 2004 and 2014)   
    • Paly students' admit rate fell below the CA rate (2014).

The UCs weight freshmen applicants' GPAs adding an extra point for the AP and UC-approved honors classes they have taken (for ELC and admissions purposes.  See UC website for details.)

Check out more details.

C.  Challenge Success - Research and Survey Results  

I.  "Full Engagement" 
    • Research
      • Challenge Success' research suggests that "full engagement" is protective for both mental and physical health.  "Fully engaged" students are closer to their teachers and take more advanced courses.
      • Challenge Success advises “don’t cap or limit the number of AP classes in which students are permitted to enroll . . . there is no magic number (because) our research shows that stress levels in students are not necessarily correlated to the number of AP classes they take.”
    •  PAUSD's Challenge Success Survey results
      • More Gunn students are fully engaged and fewer are stressed than their Paly peers.
      • Gunn and Paly students enrolled in APs and Honors courses are significantly more engaged than other students.
                Check out more details.

II.  Time Spent (homework and sleep), Engagement, and Well-Being (by school and course load) 
  • # 1 word students use to describe their school -- "stressful" (Paly) and "caring and accepting" (Gunn)
  • # 1 thing that would most relieve school stress - "less homework" (both Paly and Gunn)
More Paly students (11th and 12th graders)::
  • Report more effort, pressure, worry, and stress than their Gunn peers 
  • Say that they have too much homework  
    •   3.33 hours/school night (Paly) and 2.88 hours (Gunn) (all)
    •   2.41 hours/school night (Paly) and 2.57 hours (Gunn) (students taking 0 AP/Honors classes)
    •   4.07 hours/school night (Paly) and 3.02 hours (Gunn) (students taking 5+ AP/Honors classes)
Engagement in schoolwork (enjoy, interesting, valuable, etc) (11th and 12th graders):
  • the 5+ AP/Honors students report more "high" engagement than their 0 AP/Honors class peers (Paly and Gunn)
Sleep and well-being (pride, school effort, school pressure, school worry and school stress) (11th and 12th graders):
  • Students who get 9 or more hours of sleep/night is the same at both high schools 
  • at Paly -- More 0 AP/Honors class students report "high" well-being than their 5+ AP/Honors class peers
  • at Gunn -- 0 and 5+ AP/Honors class students report mostly the same "high" well-being.
Check out more details.

D. Advanced Placement: Impact on Low-Income and Minority Students

  • PAUSD’s Equity & Access goals include addressing the barriers to the high achievement of underserved students by, in part, having “proportional representation in all AP classes, and at least 90% of students take at least one AP class or elective(s) of similar rigor.”
  • To level the playing field for low-income students "it’s vital to increase access to advanced courses" according to Harvard’s "Turning the Tide" report. 
  • EdTrust reports that "the strongest predictor of whether a student will achieve success in college is whether she had a rich and rigorous course of study in high school." Both the US Department of Education/Office for Civil Rights and California Department of Education press high schools to encourage minority students to take at least one AP course before they graduate, citing studies that show that taking an advanced class in high school makes a material difference in college completion.
  • 75% of US High Schools weight grades to encourage students to take an advanced class. 74% of US High Schools offer AP classes (US Department of Education's “Schools and Staffing Survey” 2011–12).
Check out more details.

E.  Scholarships 

Colleges which many PAUSD students apply to offer substantial automatic merit scholarships based on the highest GPA displayed on the transcript.  (They will not look elsewhere and do not recalculate them.)  University of Oregon is one of them; it offers a $36,000 scholarship to out of state students with at least a 3.8 GPA (weighted or unweighted).  It also offers smaller merit aid for students with 3.0 (weighted or unweighted) GPAs or higher.

Several colleges, including the University of Oregon, will only accept a weighted GPA for scholarship consideration if all transcripts from the high school display weighted GPAs. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has a similar rule.

Check out more details.