The following communication will be shared later today with 6th-grade students and families regarding the school division’s decision to eliminate weighted grades:
Dear 6th-Grade Families and Students:
Over the past few years, we have been researching and planning how we can significantly improve the high school learning experience. This has included discussions with students, teachers and families about our current model and how well it prepares students for success throughout their lives.
At the state level, recent changes to earning a high school diploma include increasing the emphasis on acquiring lifetime skills, problem-solving, the value of internships, and community service, for example.
We began making improvements even before these state requirements were enacted, and a few years ago, we received permission from the state Board of Education to proceed with one very positive change: eliminating weighted grades.
Beginning with freshmen entering high school in the 2022-23 school year, the division will no longer use weighted grades. Currently, students who take some advanced classes can earn more than four points on the traditional grading scale of four points for an A, three points for a B, and so on. Giving classes added weight in calculating a grade point average (GPA) pressures students to take these classes even if the class itself does not fit their interests.
Starting in the fall of 2022, which will first affect today’s sixth-graders, weighted grades will be eliminated from all classes, including those taken in middle school or transferred from other school divisions.
In discussions with students and parents, we learned that weighted grades produce two problems. They prevent students from taking classes that hold much greater interest and relevance for them, and they contribute to elevated levels of stress. Some students took as many as five or more of these classes at one time, dramatically increasing their workload and leaving little time for outside interests.
If students are to enjoy the maximum benefits of their high school years, their academic classes should be based on their passions and the added value to their career or development interests. Course selection should not be driven by an artificial weighting that prevents their preferred choices.
Prior to making this decision, we talked with a cross-section of college admission officials to determine any impact this would have on the ability of a student to attend the college of their choice. Their judgment was unanimous—not one official said such a change would negatively impact a student’s chances and, in fact, they agreed with our decision.
This is but one of several improvements to our high school learning experience that you can expect as we continue to modernize how we prepare students for lifetime success.
Please stay safe.
Director of Secondary Education