Austin accepts new grade weighting option

Published 8:01 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Students at Austin High School are going to be more competitive when it comes to getting into colleges and earning scholarships.

The Austin Public School board approved a new grade weighting policy Monday that will allow grade weighting on AHS transcripts sent to post-secondary schools.

“Right now is a great opportunity to explore the possibility of (grade weighting),” said Bradley Bergstrom, AHS principal.

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For years, Bergstrom and other high school staff have refused to consider grade weighting, although discussion annually came up. However, a presentation John Bramwell, an Austin resident, gave to the school board during its September meeting made Bergstrom reconsider.

“I just decided at that moment in time, ‘Let’s go ahead and take a look at this issue,’” Bergstrom said.

Last spring, during the district’s research on the University of Minnesota’s College Readiness program, Bergstrom and other staff found many high schools send weighted grade transcripts to colleges as part of their students’ applications, which colleges and universities use when doling out scholarships.

“When it comes to scholarships, it is apparent that colleges are accepting grade points that are given to them,” Bergstrom said.

After speaking with Bramwell, Bergstrom put together a team of staff to look at whether AHS should change the policy. The committee had to consider a variety of factors, including which classes to weigh and by how much, if at all, they should be weighted.

A .15 multiplier will be used to weight grades, which means a 4.0 grade point average (an A), would become a 4.6 GPA. In addition, there’s no minimum grade required to have a grade be weighted.

Grade transcripts will now include both weighted and unweighted grades, which colleges and scholarship committees can decide which to use. Honors, AP and Pre-AP courses, along with University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program courses will be weighted. College courses won’t be weighted, as they’re not open to everyone.

All current high school students will have their grades retroactively weighted as soon as possible. In addition, parents will receive a letter notifying them of the change by next week. One thing is for sure, however: Unweighted grades are going to still be used internally at AHS for scholarship and awards selections.

“That whole concept of inflation of grades, I mean in my mind, it flies in the face of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Bergstrom said. “Just because (a) course is more academic in nature, does not mean that it is deserving more value.”