New GPA formula to amend GPI problems

Caroline Cohn

The much clamored for GPA reform will be effected beginning second semester, changing Walpole High School’s controversial Grade Point Index (GPI) into a more universal system for calculating students’ GPAs.

The reason behind the change is to make Walpole’s GPAs more closely resemble those used in other schools, thereby putting Walpole High students on a more level playing field with students across the nation.  Relative to most other high schools, Walpole High School’s students’ GPIs were lower, which made some students ineligible for certain GPA-based scholarships or put them at a competitive disadvantage when applying to colleges.  Additionally, guidance and administration felt that the former system did not accurately reflect students’ abilities, as lower level students’ GPIs were inflated relative to other student’s GPIs, while upper level students’ GPIs were relatively depressed.

The new system seeks to amend these past flaws with a new formula that is  “more universal and more in line with what other schools have done” said Head of Guidance Diane Cokely.  Though it is based on other schools’ systems, the new formula is still unique to WHS because it has to account for variation between four different levels of courses (AP, Honors, CP1, and CP2) whereas most other schools only offer two or three different levels.

Under the previous system, a 4.0 was unattainable, even by the valedictorian; however, under the new formula, a 100 average in a CP2 class corresponds to a 4.0.  In CP1, Honors, and AP, a 100 average corresponds to a 4.5, 5.0, and 5.5 respectively. For seniors applying for scholarships second semester, the elevated GPAs should prove helpful; however, guidance felt it would be unfair to recalculate seniors’ first semester GPAs as is being done for each of the other grades.  “Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t get into a school, but then we recalculated your classmate’s GPA and they did get in that school,” Mrs. Cokely explained regarding the issue, adding that guidance “thought it would be doing our seniors a fairer service” by only using the new formula for second semesters’ grades.  The valedictorian and salutatorian of the senior class will also be selected based on the old system, which is not a change from past years given that the valedictorian and salutatorians have always been chosen after the first semester of their senior year.

While on the surface the new formula seems to be a disadvantage to lower level students because their GPAs will drop relative to other WHS students’ GPAs, Guidance Counselor Jennifer Dolan, who was very involved in pushing through the new formula, argues that the new formula will actually benefit students by giving them a more accurate picture of where they stand academically.  “The previous system was more inflated for the lower levels, which did these students a disservice because C-student had 2.0s under the former system, so they thought they were more competitive with [other prospective college students] than they truly were,” Mrs. Dolan said.

Guidance is confident that the new formula for calculating GPAs will not only replace the antiquated GPI system, but it will “benefit all students and is the fairest and most equitable possibility,” said Mrs. Cokely.