How much do you know about HW’s GPA calculation change?

Ever wonder how GPA is calculated? A noticeable change in Harvard-Westlake (HW) GPA calculation was made by the administration recently, as an attempt to give students a better work-life balance and encourage them to only take classes which they enjoyed. Prior to the class of 2022, AP and Honors course grades had been given an extra point when calculating grade point average. However, according to the Harvard Westlake registrar Lopez Alvarez, who is responsible for keeping track of all students grades, HW decided to remove the extra point for students, maxing the potential HW GPA at 4.0, instead of potential with grade boosts 5.0 from years before.

“Honors used to be weighted, but now, only APs at the upper school are weighted towards GPA. This was made as a choice to give students more freedom and encourage students to only take classes that they were passionate in.” Alvarez stated. Colby Plath, 8th Grade Dean at HW school, also supports the change, hoping it will allow students to enjoy more of a healthy school and work environment in regards to balance and time management in schedule now that the pressure to take honors has been uplifted.

In contrast, regarding the cons to this decision, Plath said, “There will be an adjustment period when it comes time to graduate, depending on how colleges look at transcripts now that the maximum GPA is a 4.0. The current students who are in 10-12 right now, do have a GPA boost, so those students can come close to a 5.0. The downside is that now you’re being compared to kids who have 4.4s, when our new max, our top students will only be at a 4.0 for our class and beyond. How are we actually going to be competitive be in that pool? There will be efforts made by our school to communicate with colleges to make them aware of this change. Another thing to consider is that many colleges also take away the weight of honors classes to compare all students from all schools on equal footage.

On a slight topic shift to health to work life balance, according to the State of the School address, a Harvard-Westlake event on Sept 16., 2018, President and Head of the School, Richard B. Commons, talked in regard to “how students are living and experiencing school within the culture of extreme excellence at HW.”

Commons maintains that sustainable wellbeing is important, and from the Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences, presents facts according to student surveys that at least 25% of classes at HW assign meaningless homework (busy work) in classes, and that only about 35% of classes assign homework that helps students learn the material. Commons stated that the upper school is looking seriously at possibilities for a new daily schedule, so Harvard-Westlake students should stay prepared for any potential changes in schedule, and stay ready and open to any new changes in schedule and GPA grading that may affect their learning circumstances and overall community environment.

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