Putting on Pounds: How Weighted grades should work at OHS


Taylin Duran, Reporter

At Olympia High School students have the option of taking AP, honors, or regular leveled classes. AP and honors are likely to have more homework and take tests often. There are risks in taking harder classes, but they look better in college applications. A B in an AP class is measured as a 4.0 while an A is counted as a 5.0. Some students think it’s worth it to have more homework but others that do sports might not have the time to spare. Are weighted grades fair or does it somehow cheat the system?
GPA is calculated on an unweighted scale when not using weighted grades. An unweighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 4.0. It is less difficult to grade this way because it doesn’t take the difficulty of a student’s coursework into account. An unweighted GPA represents an A as a 4.0 no matter if it was earned in an honors class, AP class, or lower-level class. Then a weighted GPA is often used by high schools to try and  represent students that have taken more risks. Weighted GPA takes into account the course difficulty and differs in how much a student can go over a 4.0. Usually, a weighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 5.0, although some scales can go higher. An A in an AP class may translate into a 5.0 weighted GPA, which differs from an A in a regular-level class will give you a 4.0 weighted GPA. At Olympia high school there are mid-level classes(honors) where the highest weighted GPA that a student can earn is a 4.5.

While the main things that weighted grades typically refers to is the final grade, it is important to note that weighting may also refer to different levels of weight given to specific assignments within a course. For example, Riley Young, a senior, said, “My final test was 20 percent of my final grade while the  homework assignments that I did counted as 10 percent of my grade”. Weighted grades may actually act as disincentives for students when they are choosing their classes. While weighted grades may make challenging courses seem less risky to students, it’s also possible that students may not work as hard because they know that a lower grade is worth as much as a higher grade in another course because of how it is weighted. Related to that students enrolled in lower-level courses know that their efforts are being assigned less value so even if a student works hard and earns a good grade in a college-prep course, that effort will still be assigned a lower value than grades earned by students in higher-level courses.

Lindsay Gramling, a sophmore, said, “ I think that weighted grades can devalue certain courses if your looking at what the class is worth”. Because both teachers and students know that lower-level courses are assigned a lower value, the practice of weighting grades reinforces the prestige associated with higher-level courses and the stigma associated with lower-level courses—for both teachers and students. Having this stigma around this is why some students and parents are concerned and want to take out the weighted system. Students think that with the weighted classes there GPA will be higher but it has been found that some colleges ignore weighted grades. If so than is it worth it to take harder classes such as AP or honors?

The weighted grading system benefits the students that make the decision to take harder classes, but some people disagree with the system. It’s used all around the US and is supported for students to take AP and honor courses.