New GPA weighting system is being considered for Westlake High School
Proposal would require students take 5 unweighted classes before graduation.
After over a year of brainstorming without reaching a consensus among students, parents and Eanes school district officials about changes to the Westlake High School GPA weighting system, Superintendent Tom Leonard was asked to form a new GPA Focus Group to continue fine-tuning the system.
The focus group met three times and presented their recommendations to the board on March 7, finally achieving an informal agreement between the parties on a plan to reduce stress for students who often zealously compete for top rank.
The Eanes school district Board of Trustees must hear public comments before taking a vote, but since so many families were expected to be away for spring break, extra time was given to schedule a forum in April.
If approved, Westlake High School will have a new grading system that will take effect only with incoming freshmen in the 2018-19 school year.
The new proposal would require students to take five unweighted classes before graduating. Presently, they must take four. Prior proposals would have required students to take even more unweighted classes.
In a memo to Leonard, the GPA Focus Group described the present system.
“Students are fully aware that every additional AP class and every point in their grade will greatly boost their GPAs,” the memo said. “As a result, many students attempt to take as many AP classes as possible. This often leads to an overload of difficult coursework ...”
Members of the focus group also pointed out that students feel pressured to take classes they may not be prepared for, or have no interest in, just to compete for the multiplier.
To address that problem, the focus group is calling for those students who are taking Pre-AP and Career and Technical Education classes to receive a five-point bonus per class, and a 10-point bonus per class for students taking an AP course under the new GPA system. This would eventually replace the current system, in which bonuses are determined by multiplying numeric grades by 1.10 for Pre-AP classes, and 1.20 for AP classes.
In other action, trustees saw a district rebranding presentation by Westlake High School students Isabel Burke, Ruthy Kirtley and Finn Lowden, who are in teacher Dale Baker’s art and digital communications class.
Rebranding was born from Eanes becoming a “district of innovation” last year. The legislature offered these districts advantages and flexibility once reserved for charter schools. Thinking of the future brought new consideration of a logo that hadn’t been changed in 40 years. The current one features an outline of Texas in a red apple.
Students explained their criteria for new options in a PowerPoint presentation: “If shapes, fonts or color combinations date the company, or if a similar logo of a more prominent brand does it better,” it’s time to update your logo.
Designers will meet with focus groups before finalizing the selection to be presented to the board.
Westlake High students Isabel Burke and Finn Lowden have a laugh while discussing rebranding ideas for the Eanes district March 7.