An Eanes Independent School District GPA Focus Group presented its recommendations at the March 2017 School Board meeting, after meeting three times to “determine how to reduce student stress by addressing issues related to the grade point averaging at Westlake High School,” according to an Eanes ISD release.
The group was comprised of teachers, department heads, one school counselor, the Westlake High School Principal, parent stakeholders, and members of a previous GPA committee.
The current system, which weights Pre-Advanced Placement classes with a 1.1 multiplier and AP classes with a 1.2 multiplier, encourages competitive students to take more advanced classes in order to boost their GPA. However, parents and teachers are positing the “culture” has become so competitive that it is putting too much stress on the students.
“For example, many students whose academic needs are better met by a non-weighted course take an AP class anyway to try to become more competitive. This can cause stress for these students if they are truly unprepared for the course, yet they feel stuck, unwilling to move to a lower level, due to the impact on their GPAs. Other students may be particularly strong in one area of study, such as STEM but feel they must take advanced coursework, even in subjects they dislike, in order to remain academically competitive. Some students even feel pressured to skip lower-level courses in math, language, etc. in order to enter Pre-AP and AP classes sooner, thus receiving more of the lucrative grade point returns.”
The recommendation of the Focus Group is that Pre-AP classes will earn students a five point bonus and AP classes will earn students a 10-point bonus. In addition, the group recommended adding one additional non-weighted class to the required classes for students, bringing the total number of non-weighted required classes to five.
“The committee is fully aware that this proposal will require a cultural shift by the students and the community, but we firmly believe that it will result in more well-rounded students who suffer less stress during their high school years.”
If approved as recommended, the changes would go into effect for the Class of 2022. The Board will discuss further the issues and recommendations at the April 11, 2017 study session.