New GPA weight­ing sys­tem is be­ing con­sid­ered for West­lake High School

Pro­posal would re­quire stu­dents take 5 un­weighted classes be­fore grad­u­a­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Suzanne Ma­jors Davis Con­tribut­ing writer

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.

Dis­trict re­brand­ing

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.

SUZANNE MA­JORS DAVIS /

West­lake High stu­dents Is­abel Burke and Finn Low­den have a laugh while dis­cussing re­brand­ing ideas for the Eanes dis­trict March 7.

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