Opinion: high schools should not offer weighted classes

Gracie Warda, Online Editor in Chief

On a four-point scale, how is it possible for a student to have a 4.2 Grade Point Average (GPA)? Well, this can be achieved thanks to weighted classes, which are on a five-point scale. Weighted classes are an unfair representation of GPA and should be eliminated at FHS. 

First, it’s important to establish what a weighted class is, exactly. At FHS, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes are all weighted. Honors, advanced and dual enrolled classes are not. As stated previously, weighted classes are on a five-point scale, so when average GPA is calculated, these classes raise the average. 

What does this look like in a real-life example? Say a student is taking six classes, 2 AP classes and 4 standard level classes, and they earn A’s in all six. To calculate this student’s average GPA, one would add 4 points for each standard level class and 5 points for each AP class, then divide it by all six courses, giving that student a GPA of 4.33. Similarly, if a student earns a “B” in an IB or AP class, it would count as 3.75 points for the GPA calculation, instead of 3.0 points if it were a standard level class. See the FHS Curriculum guide for the full scale.

The reasoning behind weighted classes is to “give students a numerical advantage for grades earned in higher-level courses or more challenging learning experiences,” according to The Glossary of Education Reform. However, dual enrolled, advanced and honors classes are all more rigorous than standard or “college prep” classes, yet FHS does not treat them with the same weight as AP and IB classes, entirely defeating the purpose of a weighted class. 

That being said, a weighted GPA at FHS is not an indicator of course difficulty, rather, it is an indicator of administration’s prioritization of certain classes over others. FHS encourages students to take AP and IB classes more than dual enrolled or advanced classes, and GPA weighting is an incentive given to students to take certain classes. 

GPA is a very large factor in the college admissions process, so it’s natural for a student to want to raise it by taking weighted classes. However, according to PrepScholar, many colleges recalculate applicant’s GPAs without weighted classes, anyway, including the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Most selective colleges will expect students to take rigorous classes and do well in them, without the assistance of a weighted GPA. 

Overall, a weighted GPA is a poor indicator of student achievement, course difficulty and college admittance, so it should be eliminated at FHS and replaced with unweighted GPAs.