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To Weight or Not to Weight? Student Senate Asks

The NHS Student Senate introduced the idea of bringing weighted GPAs to Northampton High School, and has begun to bring the issue to the attention of the administration and the school as a whole.

The Student Senate surveyed students concerning GPA weighting at lunch in November, and wrote a letter to Northampton High School Principal Bryan Lombardi a few weeks later based on survey’s results. Out of 188 students surveyed, 83.5% were in favor of weighted GPAs. The school does not currently weight GPAs, meaning grades in regular classes are worth just as much as honors and AP class grades. The survey questioned whether the student took mostly Honors and AP classes or not, and if the student thought that GPAs should be weighted. Of the respondents who take AP/Honors classes, 86.5% were in favor of weighted GPAs, while only 72.5% of the respondents who do not take AP/Honors classes were in favor of weighted GPAs.

The letter to Lombardi ended with the following statement: “We believe that these results definitely indicate a great deal of student interest in restoring GPA weighting at our high school. Therefore, we recommend that Bryan Lombardi and the Northampton High School administration set up a committee consisting of students, faculty, guidance personnel, and administrators to review the merits of implementing a system to weigh GPAs at the high school, or take other similar action.”

After sending the letter, the two presidents of the Student Senate, NHS Seniors Eliza Moss-Horowitz and Saadya Chevan, and the Senate’s advisor and NHS history teacher Scott Mahar discussed the issue with Lombardi two weeks ago.

Moss-Horowitz wrote, “There is a misconception that the Student Senate is petitioning for or asking for GPA weighting… We are recommending that a forum be opened up regarding this issue.”

The issue is now in the hands of Lombardi and the school’s department heads. Chevan wrote, “(Lombardi) was very open to the possibility of revisiting the issue with faculty and the superintendent. According to him a switch to weighted GPAs would require the approval of the school committee.”

“It is vitally important to understand the current policy on why we do not currently weight grades. If nothing else this procedure will either cement our current policy as positive or possibly highlight problems,” Mahar wrote.

Weighting GPAs can be beneficial to students who take AP and honors classes, however it can also be detrimental to the grades of students who for various reasons are unable to take such classes. Weighted GPAs also have been shown to have little advantage in the college admission process, as colleges have their own methods of ranking students. The school decided ten years ago to have unweighted GPAs with these justifications.

“The Student Senate is only advisory,” Mahar wrote. So even though the Senate was able to spark the start of a discussion about weighted GPAs, how far the discussion goes and whether or not change will occur is up to administration at this point.