CCAHS students call for weighting GPAs

74.9% of students believe CCAHS should make the switch


Anisa Rachman

Clear Creek Amana High School students in AP literature and composition.

Anisa Rachman, Editor

For high school students, grade point average (GPA) is a major factor in academic success and college admissions if they plan on advancing their education. Schools neighboring Clear Creek Amana High School (CCAHS) such as the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) have established a weighted GPA scale in order to guarantee fair opportunities for their students when applying for colleges according to West High counselors, Kelly Bergmann, Paul Breitbach, Kay DiLeo, and Greg Yoder. So why hasn’t CCAHS made the switch?

A weighted GPA system is defined as added points to an accumulation of grades and credits for classes taken for honors or advanced placement courses (AP classes). For example, a student in an unweighted GPA system can only receive a maximum of a 4.0 GPA; however,  a person taking one AP class in a weighted GPA system could earn up to a 5.0 GPA. Now, a question that is often asked when bringing up GPAs is why does it matter whether it is weighted or unweighted? It all boils down to how colleges look at them. 

In Iowa, many colleges and universities compare GPAs without considering whether a school weights GPAs or not. This often puts students with unweighted GPAs at a disadvantage when applying for scholarships and getting accepted into college.

Schools such as West High have made the switch for these very reasons. “A lot of other schools provided weighted GPAs, and we wanted to ensure our students had an equal opportunity for things like college admissions and scholarships,” stated counselors of West High.

Students often take AP classes because they are more challenging, prepare students for college course expectations, and can be offered college credit if a student does well on the exam. 

Counselors at West High also shared, “We felt that students who were taking a college-level course should be granted the extra weight in their grade because of the difficulty of the course and the workload that comes with an AP course.”

However, when students see that taking an AP class does not earn them more credit or show in their overall GPA, they may be discouraged from taking honors or AP classes out of fear that taking a harder course will drop their GPA. 

Now, why does CCAHS not have a weighted GPA system? According to the school board president, Jen Mooney, the idea has not been addressed as an agenda item in six years and has never been brought to board-level discussion. 

Mark Moody, the Principal of the Clear Creek Amana High School, stated that weighting grades has “never been seriously considered” because of difficulty in determining which classes should be weighted; such as between AP classes offered (AP biology, AP literature, AP Calculus, etc.), advanced courses, Kirkwood classes, and more. Another reason was not being able to offer AP classes in all content areas, making it inequitable for some students. A decision on whether online college courses should be weighted or not would also have to be decided on. There is also the possibility that students won’t be able to take all the AP courses they would like due to the master schedule.

Despite these reasons, CCAHS students still believe that a weighted GPA scale is what the High School needs. The Anchor surveyed all grade levels in the High School, and discovered  that 74.9% of students call for the switch. For some students, no incentive or reward for taking these more difficult courses is the reason they want a change. 

“There’s no reason to put in the extra effort of taking those honors and AP classes because it doesn’t pay off. If you get a B in one of those classes, it screws your GPA over even though it’s a more challenging class and shouldn’t be given the same weight as a regular class,” voiced Audrey Rice, a junior at CCAHS. 

Students feel discouraged from taking AP classes for this very reason. This is presumably the cause for low participation or interest in these types of classes at CCAHS. 

Students also see it as unfair when taking into consideration what other schools are doing and how colleges do admissions. 

A junior at CCAHS, William Swift expressed, “It’s unfair that other schools get to send out better-looking GPAs to colleges for doing the same work as students here.”

Another student, junior Connor Bonde stated, “I believe that if grades are supposed to resemble academic effort and/or understanding, the grades coming from classes deemed more rigorous should represent this accordingly.” 

He continued, “Other local high schools such the ICCSD weight grades and found that a majority of colleges nearby do not take into consideration whether high schools have weighted grades during admissions;  meaning that we could be put at a disadvantage even after high school because of our school’s decision not to weight grades.”

After making the switch to weighted grades, West High School counselors, Bergmann, Breitbach, DiLeo, and Yoder, say that it was an easy transition and that it is “highly unlikely” that they will switch back to unweighted grades. West High School has only found positive changes around the school by making this decision. 

“Students who were unsure of whether or not to take an AP course in high school are more likely to take one knowing that their final grade is weighted. This has increased enrollment and diversity within some of our AP courses,” Counselors of West High School revealed. “Students feel like it is more equitable now because the level of difficulty is different in an AP class vs. a regular or honors class.”

While CCAHS doesn’t weight GPAs, the majority of students believe it would greatly benefit the school and students’ futures. When there is a change in the system, adaptation is key to thriving in it. Jayden Ohrt states, “A person taking an advanced class should not be getting the same grade as a person taking a basic class. The more effort you put in the more you should receive.”