GPAs are Calculated Inaccurately


A new policy adopted by the state board of education outlines the standards for a student’s electronic transcript.  This transcript, an official record of a student’s grade point average (GPA), class rank, and end-of-course test scores, is many students’ ticket into college.  Without it, highly competitive universities would have no idea of the difficulty of a student’s workload during high school.

Universities often cite a student’s GPA and SAT score as its most important determinant for admission.  Given the fierce competition for respected universities in NC and beyond, I hope that my grades are truly reflected on my transcript.  Unfortunately for most Wake county students, transcripts do not accurately reflect grades.

There are two methods NC allows for calculating GPA.  The first, which most Leesville students have known since freshman year, is described in a policy manual as “Letter grades without Pluses and Minuses.”  That is, any student with an A in a regular, or academic, course will receive four quality points.  For each drop in letter grade, an entire quality point is lost.  The state of NC awards honors and AP students one or two extra quality points, respectively.

The second, more accurate form of measurement is what NC has called the “NC WISE Augmented Scale Entry.”  In this system, variability within an A’s range, (93-100 percent) causes variation for the point earned.  For example, a student that earns 93 percent would recieve a 3.625 instead of a 4.  The same extra points apply when considering honors and AP courses.

This much more precise system of measurement would help students who achieve high grades shine when applying to college.  Additionally, students straddling the line between an A and a B, but earn a high B (or 3.5 points) will stand out against others who are nearly C students.

While this process does seem more complicated and more difficult to calculate, its benefits outweigh its detriments.  It provides an incentive for students to strive for a higher grade instead of settling for the same letter grade.  For example, a student in the current, non-augmented system who knows they can not possibly earn an A for the semester may work less, considering an 85 percent and a 92.4 percent count the same on the current grade scale.

If leaders in education want students to strive harder for their grades, perhaps a more comprenhensive GPA is the first step.  When students know that their true efforts are reflected on a transcript, they will care more about the numeric grade they receive.  Furthermore, colleges would be able to greater perceive a student’s ability as opposed to haphazardly guessing based on vague grades.

Each county has the choice of which grading scale to adopt, and now is the time for Wake county to move forward for its students.  Wake County, a school district with the third greatest number of certified teachers in the nation, prides itself on its 21st century thinking and performance.  In order for that vision to succeed, GPAs ought to be based on an augmented scale.


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