Grades weigh down success

One of the reasons students take AP classes is for the opportunity to receive a weighted grade. Although these grades are attractive on a high school report card, the reality of “grade inflation” is much less appealing.

A weighted grade is essentially the means to achieve a higher GPA. That’s it; stripped down to the bare bones, a weighted grade doesn’t amount to much more than class rank.

True, having a weighted GPA does cushion grades and acts as a sort of reward for students taking AP classes—students do deserve some recognition for their drive and hard work for taking these college-level courses. While It is also true that boasting a 4.7 GPA is a meritable accomplishment, the fact is that this 4.7 is entirely defunct outside of high school and the “My Student is an Honors Student” bumper sticker.

As students prepare to take their AP tests this spring, weighted grades loom over them. These weighted GPAs are not always beneficial to students, however.

As students prepare to take their AP tests this spring, weighted grades loom over them. These weighted GPAs are not always beneficial to students, however.

I am among the top three percent of students in my class thanks to weighted grades. I have benefitted from the system as it exists and I have been that person who places my weighted GPA in a place of pride. By the same token, I should not be awarded for my GPA. I should be viewed from the perspective of the time, tears and effort I have poured into my academic success, not by how high my grades are. But that’s not the world we live in.

Grades can be a measure of how hard we worked to attain our goals and prove that we could succeed in school. A weighted GPA is not an accurate representation—perhaps even less so than grades in general—of the student. A schedule can be saturated with AP classes and the resulting grade report will only reflect the surface details, the test scores and project grades, that do not disclose if the student has actually absorbed the information, or even enjoyed the class.

This trend of favoring AP classes over regular classes is detrimental to the educational system for one because students are not taking the classes that they truly want, and for another because individual classes are now competing for students. With the introduction of AP classes like AP Seminar and AP Scientific Research, students are more attracted to these courses than art, journalism, theatre, music and wood shop because they offer the one thing regular classes do not: a weighted grade.

For some students, these AP classes are truly what they want to take. AP’s offer a challenge and are often times the right fit for students. The problem itself is not with AP classes, just the weighted grades that come with them. Weighted GPAs are helping the decline of student-run organizations, like the school newspaper, because they provide the potential for a higher class rank. Students are filed into AP classes and the school loses the programs and activities that set it apart from every other school that offers AP.

Class rank and weighted grades mean little to nothing outside of high school. Colleges un-weight grades when they receive school transcripts, and the very concept of weighting grades is born and dies in high school. This system has been an empty benefit to many students like myself, and it is time that these students receive the true recognition that they deserve, not another 4.7 GPA.

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