Rochester Community Schools Adopts a Weighted Grading System for AP Courses

The Rochester Community School District Board of Education approved a resolution to establish a weighted grading system using a 1.25 multiplier when calculating the grade point average (GPA) for marks earned in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. According to the press release, the weighted grading system will apply to all AP courses, including those previously taken, for all students enrolled in high school for the 2015-16 school year. Letter grades will remain the same on student transcripts.

Over the past year, the grading committee, consisting of 17 teachers, learning consultants, counselors and administrators, studied the issue of giving more “weight” to some courses when they are factored into a student’s GPA. The committee then provided their recommendation to the Board.

“Our grading committee accepted the task of investigating and analyzing the benefits as well as consequences of a weighted grading system for RCS,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner. “Once again, they have done an outstanding job.

“For the 2014-15 school year, the committee recommended to the Board a new grading scale where an ‘A’ [letter grade] would start at 93 percent instead of 95 percent. This is consistent with other districts and can help our students better compete for college acceptance,” said Shaner. “For the 2015-16 school year, the committee presented the weighted grading system for AP courses.”

In order to provide a thorough recommendation to the Board, the grading committee established a process that included reviewing the work of previous grading committees; reviewing weighting practices of similar school districts; researching the impact on university admissions; researching the impact on scholarships; and gathering staff and parent input.

The committee recommended adding a 1.25 multiplier to the final semester grade for AP courses in order to utilize a 5.0 scale—the highest marker in weighted systems.

“The 1.25 multiplier offers the advantages of the 5.0 scale and allows RCS to include weight for the ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ grades,” said Executive Director of Secondary Education Carrie Lawler. “The 1.25 multiplier rewards student achievement – the higher the grade, the greater the weight.”

Currently, the RCS weighted grading scale only takes into consideration AP courses. Lawler discussed the rationale for this decision.

“Weighting only AP courses is consistent with the majority of schools who have a weighted grading system,” said Lawler. “AP courses are considered college level courses. They have established national curriculums that are normed and tested. Teachers attend AP training. The courses also go through an application process and have a College Board approved syllabus. No other RCS course is subjected to this national scrutiny, not even Honors classes.”

A comparison of the RCS weighted and the non-weighted grading scale is as follows:

Chart courtesy of Rochester Community Schools

Chart courtesy of Rochester Community Schools

Lawler said the committee found that, although the impact of the weighted grading scale does not appear to have been a major factor in RCS graduate acceptance at universities, the un-weighted scale may have had an impact on some students’ ability to earn college scholarships in the state of Michigan.

“With the rising cost of continuing education, we are so pleased to be able to support efforts which can help Rochester area students better compete for scholarship opportunities,” said Board President Jennifer Berwick.

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