Harvard-Westlake Should not have Removed the Extra GPA Point for AP and Honors Classes

Karen Wu

Harvard-Westlake (HW) removed the extra GPA point for AP and honors classes at the middle school in order to take pressure off students. The removal was a mistake because it is ineffective, hypocritical and unfair. Instead, the school should focus on making sure the right students are going into AP and honors classes.

Some may say colleges will receive course transcripts so the extra point doesn’t matter and that colleges re-calculate GPAs, but this means students will still take AP and honors classes they aren’t interested in to look good for college. Therefore, removing the GPA point is ineffective.

“People will still get the extra point, so it doesn’t matter,” Anika Iyer ’23 said. The removal is “only making things more confusing than needed.”

The school might as well give students the extra point so that it will be simpler to compare GPAs and students can have the satisfaction of seeing a high GPA.

Furthermore, the removal is not supported by the majority of the student population. Out of 186 HW middle school students, 30.6% supported the removal and 59.7% didn’t. The rest either didn’t care or were in the middle.

“This was made as a choice to give students more freedom and encourage students to only take classes that they were passionate in,” Harvard-Westlake registrar Lopez Alvarez said in a prior interview with Spectrum. However, this contradicts the current educational system where students are forced to take core classes and pressured to succeed in order to get a good grade. Since they’re already doing work they’re not fully interested in, students should get the opportunity to get rewarded for doing more work. If the school wants to let students only take classes they’re interested in, they would have to overhaul the educational system.

Until then, grades and classes matter in success, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed. Some choose to work harder because they want more out of life, and that’s their choice to make. While some might say that honors and AP classes should only be taken out of a desire for knowledge and challenge, that’s their opinion. It shouldn’t interfere with the academic achievement of others. Besides, HW is an academically challenging school, so students should be ready to push themselves.

“Harvard Westlake is a very competitive and stress-inducing school already, so [the AP] limit and unweighted GPA isn’t going to change anything,” said Cory Porter ‘22.

Because AP and honors classes give students an extra workload, it is fair to also give the students extra GPA points. A higher payoff is the natural product of more work. Otherwise, it would be like not paying someone for working overtime.

Without the extra GPA points, students are discouraged from challenging themselves because they know there’s a higher risk of getting a bad grade. While some might say this is a good thing, it’s better that students challenge themselves. If they can’t handle it, they can always move down. This may be a hassle, but it’s still better than not trying at all. Furthermore, the higher risk may cause students who are interested in an AP or honors class to take it.

HW wants to prepare its students for adult life, but by removing the GPA point, they are doing the opposite. In adult life, the government should listen to what the people believe, but HW is going against the majority of its student population. In adult life, challenging yourself is a good thing, but the extra GPA removal discourages students from challenging themselves. In adult life, people should be fairly compensated for the work that they chose to do, but HW is refusing to compensate its students for extra work and telling them there is a “correct” reason to choose their classes.

However, taking higher level classes does become a problem when students are compromising their well-being. While removing the extra point doesn’t help, having a stronger vetting process before letting students into AP and honors classes will.

Currently, students need their teacher’s approval before going into AP or honors classes. These conversations should be more detailed, asking students about extracurriculars, interests and goals in life. If a teacher doesn’t think a student is suited for an AP or honors class, they should send the student to talk to the deans.

School is stressful sometimes and mental health is important. It’s good that the administration is trying to support the students of HW by dealing with those problems, but removing the extra GPA point will not help.