Dumbing Down the GPA: It’s the Unsophisticated Bright Kid who Suffers

By 05/07/2012

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Just as drones attack from the air, so the attacks on quality education come from above, not below.  It is not the under-achieving students in urban centers who perpetuate the ongoing crisis in American education.  They are simply doing their best to survive the challenges of family, neighborhood and circumstance.  The threats come from the mindless educational potentates who have captured control of the best public schools in the country.

Massachusetts supposedly has the best public schools in the United States, and the best of the best are to be found in the affluent Boston suburbs—Belmont, Lexington and Wellesley, for example.

So when these top-flight schools decide that advanced honors courses in physics and chemistry are to be given the same weight in calculating a student’s official grade point average (GPA) as any other course, including cooking, check-book balancing, and make-up algebra, it becomes ever so clear—once again—that the country’s progressive educators have successfully pushed back the forces of school reform.  And it remains no less apparent that these same progressives continue to bash both talent and hard work.

Belmont and Lexington, with Wellesley in hot pursuit, have said that the official GPA shall no longer be boosted if the grades are earned in honors-level courses.  That antiquated practice of recognizing that some courses are more demanding than others creates social divides and denies students genuine course choice, it is thought.

Previously, students who wanted a top level GPA were forced to take the most challenging courses the school had to offer.  Now a student with a perfect GPA can become valedictorian of the class simply by accumulating a set of A’s in any old class whatsoever.

As usual, it’s a student who tells the truth.  “I feel that if you take the harder classes, that should be calculated in your GPA,” the vice president of the Wellesley student council told a Boston Globe reporter.

It is the Wellesley school board that prevaricates. A report from one of its committees told parents that “students who meet the expectation of a course should have a GPA that reflects the grade that they earned.”  (As if earning an A in computer science is the same as one in cooking.) To those who ask questions, school officials say that colleges pay no attention to GPAs anyhow—they look at the actual courses taken.  If it is not an honors course, the student is penalized by the college admissions office, so the change won’t really make any difference to student chances of getting into a good college.  They will need to take the honors courses anyhow.

Left unsaid is the fact that students are being misled when told every course counts the same.

Of course those from sophisticated families will see through the prevarication the education progressives have concocted in the name of social equality.  Those who suffer are only the bright kids from the less sophisticated families who foolishly believe what their school district tells them.

All this would be less painful to watch, were it not for the fact that what is happening in the best schools is inevitably going to shape what occurs elsewhere.

-Paul Peterson

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