Staples to rethink GPA calculation
WESTPORT — Marjorie Almansi has three sons. One is in honors level classes, the other two are in “B” level classes.
Based on Staples High School’s current GPA calculations, her two sons in lower-level classes could never get 4.0s.
“The system as it stands now completely discriminates against my boys that are in “B” classes,” Almansi said, at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Education. “They don’t work any less hard than my son who’s in honors classes and “A” classes, and as a matter of fact they probably work harder.”
“There is a stigma to being a B student and they’re just not on the same level playing field as everybody else,” Almansi continued.
Almansi was one of several people, both teachers and parents, to speak during public comment at the meeting, at which Staples High School Principal James D’Amico discussed the district’s plan to move away from its weighted system of calculating GPAs.
The current system results in higher averages for students in honors and Advanced Placement classes. The new, more equitable way of calculating will go into effect for Staples incoming freshman this fall.
The new system would not eliminate a weighted GPA, but unweighted GPAs would be noted on transcripts. Currently, weighted GPA calculations only take into account courses in math, science, English, social studies and world language, as well as AP and honors courses in art and music. The new weighted GPA calculation music, art, theater, culinary arts, media, health and physical education and technology education courses. Most notably, the current weighted GPA values “B” and “C” level courses less than honors and advanced placement courses.
“I’m really not going for dramatic effect when I say I think it’s an injustice,” said D’Amico, who said sessions on GPA calculation would be held to educate parents.
Daniel Heaphy, a Staples social studies teacher who leads courses of all levels, was critical of the current weighting.
“The current weighting system really promotes a lot of bad and harmful narratives inside Staples High School,” Heaphy said. “These are students we recommend for B level courses. We tell them this is good for them, we tell them they just need to learn in a different fashion and we tell them their work is just as good as every other student. And then we put a number on their work that devalues them.”
The change was originally scheduled to apply to both Staples freshmen and sophomores in the 2018-2019 school year, but because D’Amico and the board received complaints from parents about the switch, it was scaled back to only affect the former group. Among parent concerns was the the change to the GPA system might negatively impact college admissions.
“I have looked at college admissions for years and years and studied it intently, and I don’t believe that college admissions are negatively impacted at all by weighted GPAs,” Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said.
“We are really behind the times in terms of looking at this issue.”
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