What is GPA? Merriam-Webster defines it as the average obtained by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credits attempted. To some high school students, maintaining a high GPA is of utmost priority. A recent change in the way a student’s grade point average is calculated has left students unaware of the criteria their GPAs are based on.
Counselor, Brittany Bailey said that the same GPA calculation system was in place in the Wichita Falls Independent School District for over 20 years. Using this system, taking AP classes boosted the numbers, giving some students GPAs over 5.0. This system was rigorous, however, as students striving for the top ranks in their grade would have to take as many advanced placement courses as possible, preventing them from exploring electives and fine art courses.
The WFISD has modified the system, and now there are two systems in place. Seniors are under what counselors refer to as the “dual-credit” GPA, because they receive a higher number of points for dual-credit courses than any other graduating class. The other three grades, on the other hand, are using a completely new system. There is now a set list of 19 classes that will factor into class rank GPA. Until their junior year, students will only see their initial GPA, which includes all of their courses, and then mid-junior year, class rank GPA with the nineteen specific courses will come into play. Bailey said that the purpose of the new, two-part system was to even the playing field and allow students to experience electives and other courses they wouldn’t have been able to take under the old system.
“They can still be ranked higher without taking eight AP classes,” said Bailey. “They’re [WFISD] trying to make it fair.”
While this new system may benefit a great deal of the student body, there is still a handful of students who have mixed feelings about which system will benefit them. Andrew Fry, a senior in the top ten percent of his class, said that there were reasons he would or wouldn’t want to be under either system.
“Having to get higher than a 95 in all of your classes seems really stressful,” he said.
On the other hand, Fry said that taking so many AP classes disadvantaged him by lowering his GPA.
“I think I would have liked a mix of the two,” he said.
Freshman, Tamera Bishop, said that the majority of her classmates don’t understand how their grade point averages are calculated, but that she believes that the old system would have benefited her personally.
“I think the AP [classes] upping my GPA would have been better for me,” she said.
While the new GPA system may not be perfected, it’s a step in the right direction. Both the old and new systems seem to benefit the ends of the population. The old system provided a boost for the students at the tops of their classes, hurting their peers in traditional courses, while the new system strives to make the GPA game a bit fairer, holding back the top-ranked individuals from separating their GPAs from one another. Maybe all we need is to meet in the middle.