Privilege Cards Blacklist Some of Walpole High’s Hardest Workers


Grace Sewell

By Grace Sewell, Audrey Lynch, and Caitlin Cooper

Priv Card blur

Privilege cards are something that all students, especially those in Honors and AP classes, care about because they reward upperclassmen who earn honors each term.  In other words, students need to maintain an 80 in all classes to receive a privilege card.  If they receive one 79, they are blacklisted and do not receive the card in homeroom.  Without that card, they can not attend non-tournament athletic events for free; they do not get free or discounted admittance to school events, and they cannot leave school if they have a study period last block.  Mostly though, the card is a status symbol.  Hence, receiving or not receiving this card is not only an incentive for hardworking students; it is also an emotional dilemma.  However, with all the changes to the grading policy in the high school, isn’t it time to reevaluate the privilege card process?  Do these cards really correlate with the discipline of each student?  Do these cards really reward all students who have an exemplary work ethic?

Currently, a student who is in all Honors and AP classes may work to their fullest potential and still find it incredibly difficult to receive a term average of an 80 or above in every class.  AP classes are extremely rigorous and the student is rewarded through the inflation of their GPA – the highest GPA achievable from an AP course is a 5.5.  For students who struggle to get an 80 in an AP or honors class, they may have an easier time obtaining an 80 in a CP1 class; however, the student wants a challenging class and his or her true academic achievement is shown in their grade point average. Unfortunately, the students who take an academic risk and receive the dreaded 79 as a term grade get penalized by not receiving a privilege card for the next term.

On the contrary, students in CP1 or CP2 level courses may not be challenged as much and may coast by with a low 80 in each class.  Meanwhile, students who did not take the academic risk and received an 80 or above in a CP1 or CP2 class receive a privilege.  Is that fair to the 79 student in all honors classes?

Let’s look at sample grades from two Juniors at Walpole High.

Student #1

AP U.S. History 86 4.1
Honors Physics 86 3.6
Honors PreCalc 77 2.7
Honors English 86 3.6
Honors Spanish III 85 3.5
Computer Applications 96 no GPA
Honors International Relations 90 4.0


Term 1 GPA 3.58 

Student #2

CP1 US History 83 2.8
CP1 Chemistry 81 2.6
CP1 Algebra II 85 3.0
CP1 English 86 3.1
CP1 Spanish IV 80 2.5
CP1 Latin II 88 3.3
Physical Education 89 no GPA
Term 1 GPA 2.88

As shown in the graphs above,  the current policy in place regarding privilege cards allows for Student #2 to obtain a card due to their achievement of honors.  However, student #1 has a much higher GPA, yet they do not meet the requirements to obtain a privilege card. The student’s 77 in one class is the only grade holding him of honor roll, but he still has a good GPA.  Does it make sense for a student with a GPA of 3.58 to miss an academic incentive that a student with a GPA of 2.88 receives?  Is that fair?  Or is the privilege card policy unintentionally biased against honors students?

The fairest way to fix this problem is for privilege cards to be based on a grade point average rather than on an Honors/High Honors scale. A fair GPA for students in all different level classes would be a 3.0, which equates to an average grade of a 90 in CP2, an 85 in CP1, an 80 in Honors, and a 75 in an AP course. This change greatly benefits the students who receive a couple of high 70’s, and mostly 80’s in honors and AP classes and still receive a 3.0 GPA, but not honor roll.  If the proposed policy were to be in place, then Student #1 receives a privilege card, while student #2 does not qualify for a privilege card due to their subordinate GPA of 2.88.

Because the community may still want to offer incentives to CP1 and CP2 students, the community can still use the 80-and-above policy for those students.  However, by currently using the one-size-fits-all policy to distribute these academic status symbols, the school community is unfairly blacklisting some of the school’s hardest workers.