It’s Official: HPISD is Changing its GPA Policy

Well, HPISD trustees did opt to change the district’s GPA policy on Tuesday night — but not to a pass/fail option.

Per the revision, juniors and seniors can now choose whether athletics, Belles, and cheerleading classes will count toward their grade-point averages in the first place. The policy also applies to junior-level journalism and performing arts classes, provided students have already logged two years in a given subject and have GPAs higher than 4.0.

Trustees approved the measure on the condition that it stay open to revisions, research, and plenty of feedback. It’s “a limited response,” as Superintendent Dawson Orr explained, to some parents’ concerns that electives graded on a 4.0 scale can hurt student athletes — and a process that’s still in it’s beginnings.

Even so, the wheels are in motion. (Update: to read the full policy online, click here). And for more information, pick up Friday’s paper.

56 thoughts on “It’s Official: HPISD is Changing its GPA Policy

  • June 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm
    Permalink

    so… arts students have to have a 4.o to use pass/fail option, but athletes don’t? Um… I don’t get it.

    Reply
  • June 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm
    Permalink

    Actually Seniors in Fine Arts and Journalism will not be able to take the exemption since some of those programs offer an honors (4.5) for the 4th year. So, for the Senior Class of 2013, Athletes and Belles are the only ones benefitting from the policy.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    Permalink

    @Parent123, You missed the point of the entire change. The exemption is in response to students getting penalized for taking classes that do not offer the ability to make more than a 4.0 gpa. If the class is an honors class that allows for a 4.5 gpa possibility, there is no penalty.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm
    Permalink

    @avid reader. I believe the point of the policy as stated in the email sent out to the parents and staff is:
    “A group of parents approached HPHS and the HPISD Board of Trustees because they were concerned about the negative impact of participation in some extracurricular activities for students with a GPA greater than 4.0.”
    A 4.5 can still have a negative impact on high-achieving students who take mostly 5.0 AP courses, especially their senior year; which accounts for many of those senior students in Journalism and Fine Arts. So by making those students take the 4.5, the policy is still creating a negative impact.
    This policy change will not change any college applications since the Junior year transcript is used for applications, but it will affect the standing of the Top 10 students and the top 10%. So why should the Senior Class be involved in this change anyways if it is not being fairly administered?

    Reply
  • June 15, 2012 at 6:53 am
    Permalink

    CLASS OF 2013
    Athletes and Belles: Each senior at HPHS who has 1 PE credit, whether from 1 yr of 4.0 grade hits or online PE (no GPA impact), can now participate in sports or Belles with no impact to their GPA. There are now dozens of students who can sign-up for one of the no-cut sports and receive this perk.
    Let’s call this “Honoring Athletes and Belles with High Grades.”

    Debate, newspaper, yearbook, choir, band, orchestra: The analogous perk is to let each senior who has their 1 Fine Arts credit participate in debate, newspaper, yearbook, choir, band or orchestra with no impact to their GPA.

    The Administration claims the purpose is to increase retention in Extracurricular Programs – REALLY?

    Reply
  • June 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm
    Permalink

    we are very attuned to the point of the change. It favors Football, Belles, And Cheer. I have never met or heard of anyone who made Belles or Cheerleading and decided to quit for GPA purposes. Same with any men’s sport. If you make the team, you are gladly going to stay enrolled in that class.

    The arts are a different story. I cannot even imagine how they came up with this kooky rule of having to have a 4.0 for arts kids to take the pass/fail option. Seriously? It is simply wrong and unfair to gerrymander the system.

    You truly do not have to be in the to 10% to attend UT. There is always a work around, be it thru summer school or alumni support. Otherwise how do you explain 38 attending A$M and 62 attending UT out of this years senior class. (note: that’s way more than the top 10%)

    Reply
  • June 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm
    Permalink

    Guess we’ve joined the ranks of McKinney and Lake Travis.

    Many districts with heavily weighted AP courses exclude the performing arts from Class Rank calculations along with sports and spirit groups: Rockwall, Waxahachie, Lewisville, Austin, Round Rock. They don’t want to drive their high achieving students away from music and theatre.

    Reply
  • June 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm
    Permalink

    The new policy is completely unfair to non-athletically oriented students. Also, it will continue to hurt HP fine arts programs; high-performing students will continue to drop electives and lose their well-roundedness. Consider a high achieving student who goes to state for flute as a sophomore, or another high achieving student in theater or debate. These students will most likely drop their special interest in lieu of taking more AP courses senior year. My son did. In my opinion, there should NOT be a penalty for students to broaden their horizons and become developmentally enhanced. Most people realize an interest in fine arts lasts a lifetime in addition to spurring creativity. In my opinion, this policy is both inadequate and unfair…desperately needing to be tweaked.

    Reply
  • June 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm
    Permalink

    Students that stay with their chosen Fine Art get a GPA ‘bumb’ their Senior Year, encouraging them to stay in the class. If you don’t like letting the kids drop an athletic grade, how about giving them the same ‘bump’ for participating for all 4 years? I know kids (2 currently) that are choosing Band over Football because of the bumb they will get for 4 years of participation. It’s unfortunate because they are good at both and the decision came down to GPA, not passion or enjoyment.

    I think the new policy sounds fair. It doesn’t penalize a smart kid for continuing in athletics, dance, etc. yet it continues to help the kids whose GPA is below 4.0.

    Mom – I don’t understand your ‘unfair’ arguement. Why would a kid want to take the class as pass/fail if they had less than a 4.0? Those classes almost always are a guaranteed 4.0 and it would help their GPA for it to be included. Seems fair to me. Am I missing something?

    Reply
  • June 16, 2012 at 8:39 am
    Permalink

    I believe that everyone seems to agrees that an elective should not hurt a student’s gpa, whether that gpa is a 3.2 or a 4.6. However, the policy that was passed on Tuesday evening, does not ensure that for the seniors of the Class of 2013.

    Go ahead and give everyone a bump their senior year for sports or fine arts or journalism. However, that bump is still going to hurt those high-achieving students’ overall gpa who take AP courses, whether they are a star athlete, a flute player, or a reporter.

    Or, give everyone the exemption to drop an elective that hurts their gpa, with no regard to what the gpa value of the course is. If it lowers their gpa, they should all be able to exempt it.

    Both of those options would treat all seniors fairly. The new policy does not treat students fairly by not allowing the 4.5 fine arts and journalism courses to be exempt.

    The policy needs to be studied further and each and every aspect studied of how it affects all of our students and programs at HPHS. There is little time for a thorough plan to be researched and them implemented for the Class of 2013. Yes, move forward with a needed change, but do it the right way; not the easy way.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm
    Permalink

    The top kids in the class of 2013 will have GPAs above 4.5. So a 4.5 in band (if eligible) actually will hurt such a GPA while getting an exempt 4.0 in cross country will not hurt. The runner could move ahead of the musician into the Top Ten because of this policy change. It is favoritism. (Unlikely to hurt the top two because their electives are all 5.0 AP classes. Only way to be at top.)

    And for the top 15% kids, colleges who want the top 10% and who are not doing an early action/decision in the fall will see a GPA and a top 10% GPA cutoff in January that was calculated after fall semester and was affected by this policy designed to help athletes and hurt musicians.

    What was the rush to play favorites for the Class of 2013? It was such a rush that the policy voted on was not even available for those affected to see before the meeting. Or was that deliberate? Sure limits public comment and makes things easier when you wait till school’s out for summer and no one knows what is being voted on ahead of time.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm
    Permalink

    @DemBones, actually the current #1 is one of the few who does not have an elective. Several others including #2, #3 and #4 all have electives. Some are sports, which will be exempt, some do not which will mean a sports student can surpass a musician because of the exemption, not because of academic excellence.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm
    Permalink

    @Parent123. Thanks for the correction. Is it true that the current #2 has newspaper as a fourth year elective, which offers neither a 4.5 like fine arts or the exemption like phys ed-type courses?

    Reply
  • June 17, 2012 at 12:56 am
    Permalink

    @DemBones. Newspaper and Yearbook both offer a 4.5 for the fourth year if the student takes a technology course. Or the student can chose a 4.0 and use the fourth year of journalism as their technology credit. But either way, the new policy currently does not allow for either of those to be exempt.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2012 at 5:55 am
    Permalink

    RISD supports fine arts! My kids did school music all four years – one orchestra, the other band and four years of Athletics. Since 1995 both PE/PE Substitutes and Honors Music courses count in the GPA/Rank in Class. See p14:
    https://www.risd.org/Group/Parents/Parents_Docs/Current_Pos.pdf

    The additional 5 points are equivalent to those added for Pre-AP courses (p8). It’s not as good as the 8 points added for AP courses but it’s not too far off. Every music student can choose to take any semester for honors credit – maximum 8 – it’s easy to sign-up:
    http://richardsonband.org/downloads/on-line-forms/honors-band/

    PE/PE substitution courses do not receive quality points.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm
    Permalink

    Someone please confirm for me that I have this right:

    Going into senior year, #1 is way ahead (having avoided 4.0 electives) but #2 and #3 are very close in GPA.

    With the rules the way they were at the end of junior year, #2 would be likely to stay ahead because #2 can get 4.5 for newspaper and #3 can get only a 4.0 for a sport.

    With the rules now changed for the class of 2013, the Board helps #3 become #2 and win the graduation speech, picture in paper, etc. This is because if both do the absolute best in all their classes, current #2 will have a 4.5 to weigh down a GPA over 4.5 and #3 will have no grade to weigh down a GPA over 4.5.

    By changing the rules like this at the home stretch of the class rank game, the Board favors #3 over #2. This change also affects who is top 10 and top 10%, where GPA’s are close at the cutoff.

    Now, if #2 wants to try to retain that #2 position, s/he must give up being an Editor in Chief of the newspaper. Does that make sense? The change is not a logical fix of a bad system that discourages top students from staying on the newspaper, for example, but rather a reinforcement of it. It is a “fix” targeted to help athletes, cheerleaders and Belles at the expense of others.

    If I am right about this change, it’s unfair, and the Board should reverse its decision when it meets in August. Not that the Board reads this blog or my comments . . .

    Reply
  • June 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm
    Permalink

    @DemBones. You are correct with your basic information and conclusion. It is unfair to the seniors of fine arts and journalism and benefits athletes, Belles and cheerleaders.

    However, this is not just about #2 and #3, it will affect anyone in the Top 10 and the top 10% that does not have a sport, but does a fine arts or journalism. There will be movement of student positioning because they are all separated by minor fractions of GPA, and in this late stage, the seniors have very little recourse to change the decisions of what to take.

    It has been suggested, that if you do believe this is unfair, which I agree with you, that you contact Mr. Kelly and/or the HPISD Board Members ( and their emails are on the HPISD website: http://www.hpisd.org/hpisd/Administration.aspx ) and let them know how you feel. I have done so and my comments were received very professionally and considerately.

    Reply
  • June 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm
    Permalink

    Why is everyone making this so difficult? The only way to treat extracurriculars fairly and evenly is to make them ALL GPA-exempt after the state requirements are met. No GPA bumps should be given to extracurriculars in any year. I don’t really agree with, but am not opposed to letting the student have the option: That would enable anyone with a GPA less than 4.0 to be helped by calculating the grade into their GPA but prevent the student with a GPA over 4.0 from being hurt by participating in an extracurricular. All extracurriculars are time-consuming and intense at Highland Park. No extracurricular is more deserving than another. They should all be treated equally. Am I missing something?

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 8:14 am
    Permalink

    When I am given an option of doing something for a grade, rather than pass/fail, I am going to work harder – I care how I do, but I REALLY care when it’s for a grade. We want a top-notch band, newspaper, drill team, whatever. Does this GPA-exempt business jeopardize that? Believe me, there will come a time when most kids (not all maybe) let the GPA-exempt class slide.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 8:46 am
    Permalink

    @Mary L.

    The Board is is the “everyone” making this “so difficult” by not fixing the system in a logical way such as you suggest but instead doing a “small fix” for ABC’s (athletes-Belles-cheerleaders)and then planning to have a committee study the big picture later.

    By rushing to help the ABCs, they are hurting those whose electives are performing arts and journalism, for example, electives some might consider a bit more relevant to an academic class rank than football or drill team.

    Problem is, the Board’s “small” change affects students at important cutoffs. By having it apply even to next year’s senior class, the Board is changing the rules when it is too late for many seniors to plan around it.

    For the group of students who have chosen to care about their class rank, this is a big deal. For students whose GPA’s are near cutoffs, this is a really big deal. The Board is probably–with one little “fix”–elevating the current #3 over #2, and will determine who is #10 vs. #11 (the Top Ten also gets recognition), as well as other GPA-based honors.

    Either the Board didn’t think about what they were doing (likely, since what was voted on was not made available to us in advance to point out these flaws) or they really wanted to help a few individual phys ed students at the expense of others. They need to call a meeting to reverse this decision and to form that committee to look at the big picture. The committee can recommend not only how to change the class rank calculation to be more fair to everyone but also how to implement that change fairly.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 10:40 am
    Permalink

    I agree with Mary L!! The only way to make this fair is to make all extracurricular activity gpa exempt.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 10:54 am
    Permalink

    @DemBones and Mary L.
    You are both right on target with what I agree is the problem. The Board and Administration rushed into a decision for whatever reason, and did not get a chance to look at what unintended complications the changes would create. A new policy is definitely needed so that extracirriculars do not bring down our students’ gpa numbers. But, just like many of the other districts in our state did, a thorough study needs to be done to see what works best for our HP students and for our state-winning programs.

    Once the plan is derived, it can then be studied to see when it should be implemented. Just like the current policy that was in place for the Class of 2013, it was made in 2009 yet 2013 was the only class that it was implemented for as incoming freshman. This senior class should not be affected by any “quick fix” change. As mentioned in earlier blogs, their college applications are going to have their junior year transcripts submitted anyways, so none of the changes will be shown on those transcripts. This new change is really only affecting the class rank of the Top 10 and the Top 10% students, and many are left with their hands tied while the “ABC” students pass them by.

    I do believe the Administration and Board are not finished with this and are looking more closely at these complications that were created. I know of several parents that are speaking with the Administration to see that this policy is revised. Please contact them yourselves and encourage others to do the same, if they feel it is unfair.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm
    Permalink

    DemBones,

    Your statement: “By rushing to help the ABCs, they are hurting those whose electives are performing arts and journalism, for example, electives some might consider a bit more relevant to an academic class rank than football or drill team.” is exactly were the problem lies. That statement shows your bias. Performing arts and journalism being considered “a bit more relevant to an academic class rank” is an opinion. MANY feel that football and drill team are every bit as relevant. High-achieving academic athletes have had their GPA diluted the past two years by having to factor in athletics into their GPAs. When you are talking extracurriculars you are talking about very subjective activities that really cannot be graded. Excellence in extracurriculars has a personal reward attached that cannot be reflected fairy in a GPA. Should a Clayton Kershaw or Matthew Stafford be given less recognition than a concert pianist or all-state violinist? None of these activities should have anything to do with GPA. It can never be done evenly and fairly. Special interests need to be taken out of it. Everyone is arguing for their own personal interests. This will never work. Performing arts and journalism should not be penalized for their participation nor should they receive GPA bumps in the Senior year when this same opportunity is not available for other groups.

    I don’t think the Board was rushing to help the athletes and Belles. They were simply correcting a wrong that was implemented back in 2009 when class rank was done away with for the bottom 90%. I’m not sure how that policy slipped in that athletes would be forced to average in a 4.0 for four years or quit athletics all together if they didn’t want their GPA hurt. It is crazy to have a policy that actually would place our smartest students in a position of having to quit an athletic or Belles or cheerleading in order to not have their excellent academic GPA brought down. Athletics, Belles, and Cheerleading should not be part of the GPA. They should have nothing to do with GPA. But one thing is for certain: You’re GPA should not be hurt by choosing to participate as opposed to choosing to sit at home and do nothing for fear of hurting your GPA. And yes, it would be horrific for a student to be pushed out of the top 10% because they participated in athletics or Belles even though academically they could have outperformed someone ranked over them!

    The policy before the recent change was absolutely wrong and detrimental to our best and brightest who participate in athletics. Prior to 2009, athletics was not factored in to the GPA. This is a new change that was unfair to top GPA athletes. An immediate remedy was in order. The remedy does need to be even-handed. That was my point earlier. ALL of these kids work hard and spend hours outside of class on their extracurriculars. No ONE extracurricular is better or harder than another. To try to place value on one extracurricular over another is unfair and will always be a matter of opinion.

    GPA and class rank compare individuals in any given class at HPHS to each other. The comparison should be done on academic core subjects and should have nothing to do with choice of extracurricular. We should not encourage a student to take extracurriculars they are not interested in because of how that can help their GPA. By the same token, we should never allow a smart student to have to weigh quitting an extracurricular they enjoy because of the adverse effect it would have on their GPA. Again, the only way to make this fair is to make ALL extracurriculars GPA exempt. GPA exempt is not a problem for extracurriculars because these can’t really be graded anyway and students SHOULD be doing them because they enjoy them–not for the bump it gives their GPAs. I seriously doubt that a student is going to try less hard in an extracurricular simply because it is GPA-exempt. In fact, if available to students with GPAs over 4.0, it solves the problem of a less academic student wanting to take a GPA-exempt extracurricular as a blow off.

    The recent change the Board made for athletics IS a step in the right direction, but ALL issues can be solved in the area of extracurriculars with an even-handed GPA-exempt option and no GPA bumps given to select extracurriculars.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm
    Permalink

    Wondering,
    The GPA-exempt option insures that an actual grade does appear on the transcript–as opposed to pass/fail. So, a grade does appear on the transcript, it is just not factored in to GPA. This gives the student incentive to do his best because a grade does appear. The GPA-exempt option for extracurriculars encourages students to take what they enjoy and removes the “gaming” from the system for people that take things they don’t care about just to get a GPA bump. “Gaming” should not be offered or rewarded. We should be encouraging our students to participate in extracurriculars they enjoy without making them stress on the affect that their chosen extracurricular has on their GPAs. It is ridiculous to make a student even consider quitting golf, or football, or choir, or orchestra just to make sure their GPA is not diluted by a grade in those ungradeable activites.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm
    Permalink

    While reading through all the comments, it became apparent that a lot of people are pitting Athletics/Belles/Cheerleading AGAINST Performing Arts/Journalism/Debate. This is WRONG! All of these students are hard- working and spend inordinate time and effort in their respective extracurriculars outside of the classroom. Again, treat them ALL equally. GPA-exempt option to ALL with no special bumps given to anyone.

    Alternatively, class rank of top 10% should be based on Core-academic subjects only.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm
    Permalink

    @Mary L.

    The comments seem anti-athlete because on June 12 the Board picked that one group to help at the expense of others.

    They should have left things alone until they were ready to do something fairer than the current system, not change the rules before senior year in a way that gives athletes the elevator and non-athletes the shaft.

    I suggest you volunteer for the committee the Board wants to form to decide what is fairest. And I suggest the Board reverse its rule change made June 12. It was a response to parents of athletes who complained and it shows that bias.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm
    Permalink

    Parents,
    It is reassuring to see so many parents care about the fair treatment of all of our HPHS students. Please make sure to contact Mr. Kelly, the HPISD Board, your PTA president, and Dr. Orr. They said at the June 12th meeting that they appreciated all the comments, so let them know that you feel the current plan does not treat the students equally. The sooner the better in order to give them time to reevaluate the policy that was passed. The more concerned parents they hear from, the more likely they will reevaluate and take a thorough look at what new policy can benefit all of our hard-working, high-achieving students.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm
    Permalink

    DemBones,
    Three years ago the policy was changed and this change penalized high-achievers in athletics. This should have never happened; and, the fact that it did is not a reason to continue this ridiculous penalty to our high-achieving athletes/Belles/Cheerleaders. Prior to then, athletics did not factor into GPA–as it shouldn’t. The GPA bumps to a few select groups–performing arts and journalism–is a huge advantage to these groups particularly for those in the 4.0-4.5 GPA range. I don’t know how long that has been going on. So really, athletics has gotten “the shaft” for three years without an opportunity for GPA bumps in the senior year and by being forced to take a perfect 100 that actually dilutes their GPA if their GPA is >4.

    Your gripe should not be with athletics but with a system that treats extracurriculars differently. No high-achiever should be penalized in their GPA for participation in an extracurricular; and, no one group should be valued with a GPA bump their senior year when other just as deserving extracurriculars get no such opportunity.

    And actually the Board gave TWO GPA-exempt options to those in performing arts and journalism in the junior year and kept the inequitable and unfair GPA bump for performing arts and journalism in the senior year. This is still an advantage to performing arts and journalism over athletics. So I don’t understand why you think the Board helped athletes at the expense of others–that is simply not true. The performing arts and journalism STILL have an unfair advantage over athletics.

    Again, the equitable thing would be to make ALL extracurriculars GPA-exempt at the election of the student and give no particular group an opportunity for a bump over another.

    GPA is not a game. The smartest students academically should have the highest GPA. It is really quite simple. Subjective grading of extracurriculars can never be done fairly. These things are not conducive to being graded. It opens the door for special interest groups to lobby for a personal advantage. This activity should not be entertained. GPA and Class Rank should be designated with the smartest student receiving rank #1 and the second smartest receiving rank #2 and so on. The choice of the student’s extracurricular activity should not affect that rank.

    Leaving things alone as you suggest would have continued the grossly unfair GPA penalty to our smartest athletes/Belles/cheerleaders.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm
    Permalink

    Mom,
    Of course the athletes and Belles typically don’t quit for GPA purposes, but should their GPA be penalized for participating. You are missing the point. The point is about treating all extracurriculars evenly. A Belle or Cheerleader should not have their GPA diluted by the mere fact that they were a Belle or a Cheerleader. One could argue that they should even get a GPA bump for their time and participation in HPHS. If you have two students that have the same GPA in core subjects, the student that participated in Belles, cheerleading, or athletics would end up with a lower GPA because their extracurricular would drag their GPA down. This is not a reflection of who performed better academically. It’s not even a reflection of who participated most in the school since the athlete would end up with the lesser GPA. The athlete could even out-perform the non-athlete academically and still end up with a lower GPA. That is ludicrous.

    Sure Texas accepts more than 10%, but except for the top 8-9%, there is no guarantee. The smartest students in any given class are the ones that deserve the guarantee, rank, honors, etc… not the ones that took the weightiest electives (which is an arbitrary and immeasurable weight) or abstained from electives all together.

    This is about being fair and treating everyone evenly and assigning rank to the ones that deserve it. As I said in my comments to DemBones, performing arts and journalism still have an advantage over athletics since they too were given the exemption (2 of them) and they still have the GPA bump in the senior year. What specifically is your problem with this?

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm
    Permalink

    @Mary L.

    #2 and #3 for the class of 2013 have GPAs over 4.5 and very close. They will have courses with the same possible points senior year except that #2 will have a 4.5 course and #3’s sport will be exempt. So if both do as well as possible in all their courses, #3 will overtake #2, because the sports grade will not weigh down a GPA over 4.5. If the Board had not made that change, however, #2 and #3 could possibly stay in those positions.

    Why does the Board like #3 better than #2? Sure looks like a rule targeted to either help or hurt a particular student.

    Your arguing that the whole system should be fairer is not a reason to accept this one fix that helps athletes because their parents complained loudest.

    When the policy was changed to stop making athletics exempt from GPA, the athletes were put into the same position as the performing arts and journalism, who had to let 4.0’s pull them down every year till senior year while athletes did not. (I’ve heard that athletes were actually allowed exemptions until the coming year, and that is why this is coming to a head. If so, they really have benefited at the expense of the non-athletic electives.)

    The HP football team has more kids than can ever play in a season. The Belles’ tryouts send scores of kids home in tears every year. But band and orchestra can’t attract the number of participants that other 4A schools do, that they need to bring home those Lone Star points, because musicians who want to play the class rank game cannot afford 3 years of 4.0’s. That hasn’t been true for the athletes.

    The Board needs to decide what they want GPA/class rank to be based on, whether it is just academic, or all state requirements, or every required and elective class–as it has been. Those rules will affect the course choices of students who care about Valedictorian or top 10% or whatever. Instead, the Board merely fixed the athletes’ complaints with the consequence of hurting others.

    I don’t have a high school student. I’m guessing you do, and that student is an athlete. Congratulations. You won.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 9:36 am
    Permalink

    DemBones,
    Your comments illustrate the points I have been making. One one thousandth of a point can make a huge difference if it falls at a crucial border–val,sal,top 10, top 10%. That is exactly why extracurriculars should not count in the GPA.

    I would be the last person to want a rank to be lost (or gained) based on choice of extracurricular. If #2 is in that position because he has out-performed academically #3, he should be able to take his 4.5 extracurricular GPA-exempt just as the athlete can now take his athletic GPA-exempt. This would enable their rank to be based on how they perform academically compared to each other and not on whether they are an athlete or a journalist.

    All students “care” about top 10%. Some are naturally more capable of achieving it than others, but they all care. Val, Sal, Top 10, top 10% is not something you “go for” or game for–it is something you “become.” The focus should be on encouraging our students to challenge themselves academically and do the best they can in their curricular classes. Then, it is a matter of how each performs academically that determines where they fall.

    Gaming the system based on choice of extracurriculars should not be encouraged. The stress needs to be taken out of what should be our students’ academic outlet. Our system also discourages students from participating all together in extracurriculars so as not to decrease their GPAs. This is a travesty. Extracurriculars should be based on interest and enjoyment and should never drag down our top student’s GPAs. By making them GPA-exempt, students will take what they enjoy and are interested in. If our high-achievers are not hurt, they will participate and won’t need to be bribed to stay in with a selective GPA bump. We should encourage participation based on interest and discourage gaming. GPA-exempt option does this.

    Instead of instituting a policy that would drag down the GPAs of our high-achieving athletes in 2009, the focus should have been on providing a remedy for the arts/journalism high-achievers with a GPA-exempt option. The Board’s recent decision is a step in the right direction for that purpose.

    All high-achievers should be able to take their extracurriculars GPA-exempt whether they be athletes or journalists. It is incomprehensible to me that the current system which helps the bottom 80% of a class with allowing them a 100 to be factored in would at the same time penalize our top 20% by forcing them to take a 100 that hurts them. It makes absolutely no sense.

    This is not about “winning” at all for me. It is about treating all students equally and not favoring one over another because of their extracurricular interests.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm
    Permalink

    @MaryL.

    I and most of the commenters are arguing that the Board should reverse its June 12 action.
    .
    You keep answering our arguments by saying that the whole GPA system should be fairer to everyone.

    Of course it should. But the June 12 change didn’t do that. Yours is an argument for an elective-neutral GPA rather than one that counters ours against the June 12 change.

    “First, do no harm.” The Board answered athletes’ complaints about rules that had existed throughout their high school years with a last minute fix that helps them and hurts others,including members of the class of 2013.

    Please, join the committee working on a GPA overhaul. But the Board isn’t there yet. Instead they still are happy with a school their athletes can be proud of (as someone on this blog has said repeatedly). Nothing new here.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm
    Permalink

    @Mary L and DemBones-
    It sounds like to me that you both want the same thing, like most parents.
    All students should be able to take extracirricular courses without negatively impacting their gpa.

    This is the policy we should strive to bring to HPHS. However, that is not what was passed in 2009, and the damage from that policy is done and there is nothing we can do to fairly go back and change the past. All of the students involved in extracirriculars had to carry the 4.0 for these past 3 years, whether sports or fine arts or journalism. So, let’s think about how to move forward.

    Am only speaking about seniors right now.
    Each senior should be given the option to exempt an extracirricular if it negatively impacts their gpa. End of statement. No exclusions or exceptions.
    This is the only fair way to handle their senior year. The new policy does not allow this and should not remain as it was presented on June 12th. Yes, it is a step in the right direction, but it is not a complete step, and thus leaves many students in danger of losing all they worked for. Let’s make it right and not just a “fix”.

    I have a student in the top 10 kids. In fact, my student is one the of the ones that has been discussed in these blogs. My student dropped the sport s/he played in and was even captain of freshman team. We did this because we understood the policy would make it impossible to carry a sport and an extracurricular passion and still remain in the top 10. Being in that group of top 10, these students know how each other performs academically. They know what each other get on exams since most of them have the same classes together. They are smart and are very observant of one another’s progress. It is competitive just like sports, college applications, and life in general. Unfortunately, it is a bit on “steriods” at HP because of the policy of 2009 that was in place. I am proud to say that with hard work, my student has performed at the top level of every course taken, so knows that student behind could overcome the position because of the sports exemption. Obviously we do not feel this is fair and will continue to have discussions with the Administration and the HPISD board. I am almost positive there are more students in similar positions in the top 10 and the top 10%.

    So as I have said repeatedly, contact those who can make a difference…Mr. Kelly, HPISD board members, and Dr. Orr. Let them know the passion you have for treating every student equally and fairly. I believe they will do the right thing when they understand the complications that this policy has created. Neither Mr. Kelly nor Dr. Orr was at our school when the 2009 policy was passed and I believe they want to do what is best for all the students at HPHS. Help them understand by contacting them.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm
    Permalink

    Parent123,

    I do not support reversal of the Board’s June 12th decision as I feel it is an improvement over what we had. To reverse this decision would allow the penalty received by high-achievers in athletics/Belles/Cheerleading to continue. The same GPA-exemption has been offered to students in the performing arts and journalism, so this policy does not favor athletes–it just stops the penalty they have received as well as the penalty received by high-acheivers in performing arts and journalism.

    All that being said, I agree totally with you that no student should be negatively impacted by their extracurricular choice. (I also do not think any student should be advantaged over others by their extracurricular choice). It is an absolute shame that your child was effectively discouraged from participating in athletics because that participation would have made his chances of being in the top 10 much less likely. This should never have happened. That’s exactly why I feel the change is urgent so that this unfair penalty for participation will stop immediately. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road.

    I’m assuming your child is #2 and is going to receive an honors bump of 4.5 his senior year that will actually hurt him because his GPA is greater than 4.5. Of course he should be able to take this GPA-exempt.

    The policy in general is a step in the right direction, but I’m not sure why they carved out differences. I would have offered, for now, one GPA-exemption in the junior year, and one in the senior year across the board. This would have remedied the issue with your child– but still does not answer the inequity that the honors bump in a few extracurriculars presents for most of the top 10%. GPA bumps in extracurriculars should not exist as they give anyone in the 4.0-4.5 (top10% territory) a definite advantage over those who do not get the bump. Assuming the same core academic performance, GPA bumps place the performing artist/journalist ahead of the athlete for final 10% rank and graduation honors. This is not right.

    Calculating class rank based on core academic subjects effective immediately would solve all problems presented by the policy of 2009 as well as the selective honors bumps. The smartest students would be on top. Gaming discouraged; participation encouraged.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm
    Permalink

    @Mary L.
    This statement of yours is not true for the class of 2013:

    “The same GPA-exemption has been offered to students in the performing arts and journalism, so this policy does not favor athletes . . ..”

    Parent123’s child will probably be knocked out of the #2 spot by an athlete, because s/he is not an athlete.

    Support the June 12 change if you wish, and maybe it helps your child, but don’t try to claim it is fair to everyone.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm
    Permalink

    DemBones,
    Let me clarify. During the junior year, the exemption is offered to all. In fact, two exemptions are offered for performing arts/journalism which actually favors that group in the junior year. So to state that this policy favors athletes is not accurate. It is apparent that the policy goes out of the way to include performing arts/journalism in the exempt courses.

    For the senior year, I understand that the exemption is not offered for journalism/performing arts. That is because performing arts/journalism receives a GPA bump during that year which again favors MOST of those students over athletes in the senior year. If you read my complete statement, I agree that a student should not be forced to average in a 4.5 GPA in an extracurricular that would actually hurt their grade. The highest grade offered in an extracurricular should never damage a GPA.

    The absolute fair thing would have been to offer the exemption to all. ONE in the junior year and ONE in the senior year to each student AND to do away with GPA bumps for performing arts/journalism in the senior year.
    Ultimately, as I have stated, I would like to see ALL extracurriculars GPA-exempt with NO extracurricular bumps.

    To do nothing is grossly unfair to athletes/Belles/Cheer who have been forced for three years now to be hurt by the highest grade offered and not be offered a chance for a bump in the senior year.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm
    Permalink

    Dembones… Have I told you I loved you yet???? What saddens me is I see only 2 or 3 of you discussing this very important issue. I strongly oppose the June 12 ruling and will be writing to let our board know.

    Mary – I don’t believe for a minute that the the 10 or even the top 10% are the “smartest”. Some of them simply did better on the tests in the format they were given, were tutored more, and prepped better and yes, spend lots of time playing the GPA game. Most of the kids at teacher tutorials any given day are the top 10 %…. leaving no seats for the ones who really need the teacher to help them understand to get that hard earned B. But that’s another topic….

    It’s a half-empty half-full issue. Does the 4.0 pull you down or does the 5.0 pull you up? Let’s unweight everything. East Coast schools and Rice do not consider our 5.0 scale. It’s not “real world” at all. When everyone takes AP – it’s not special any longer.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm
    Permalink

    @Mary L.

    If the policy the class of 2013 was living under since they entered HPHS was so “grossly unfair” to the athletes, cheerleaders, and Belles, why wait till now, as they enter their senior year, to demand a fix? Why spring it upon the seniors, such as #2, who have played by the rules for three years to get to where they want to be?

    If you think the new policy is good, at least ask the Board to have it start with the class of 2014.

    @mom. Thanks.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm
    Permalink

    Mom,
    You confuse the term “smart” with “intellect.” Some people have an amazing faculty for reasoning and understanding objectively (intellect0 and do not use that ability–which is not very “smart.” It IS “smart” to study hard, prepare, exert effort, attend tutorials etc… if one wants to perform at their highest potential. It is even “smart” to game–I just feel the “gaming” option with respect to extracurriculars should be minimized/abolished to encourage participation based on interest and not on GPA affect and to not penalize those that choose to participate even though they are fully aware that they are being penalized.

    Those with the highest intellect are often not the smartest in that they never strive for their full potential. I meant what I said that the “smartest” should be at the top for ranking purposes–that means the student that worked the hardest and outperformed others in their academic classes. Testing is an objective way to compare one student to another. This is how grades and rank are determined. How would you suggest we make that comparison? Not everyone can be top 10%.

    It is a fact that some people are academically smarter than others and some people have a higher intellect than others. It is typically someone who is both intelligent and “smart”(hard-working, driven, capable) that ends up at the top of the class. No matter how impalatable it may seem to you, class rank and GPA exist, and they exist to identify who is “smartest” in an academic setting. This is not a negative comment–just a factual one. This does not in any way speak to the value of that person in general.

    GPA is a comparison of one student to another in a given class. My contention is that it should be assigned as fairly and even-handedly as possible. A student’s choice of extracurricular should not factor into that at all but should definitely not be a penalty. And, I find it hard to believe that tutorials are not available for the B/C student. If this is true, I’ll be happy to help you with that one.

    Not everyone takes AP Classes. AP Classes are for those academically-gifted students who desire and/or need more of an academic challenge in the core academic areas. These classes are available to everyone; and, if all of our students can excel in them–fantastic. AP classes carry a greater workload, require a higher intellect to do well, are more time-consuming and challenging in general and deserve a higher GPA assignment. The fact that they are available to all students makes them even-handed. However, if a student would not perform well and does not need or desire the additional challenge, the regular class will satisfy his needs and are enjoyed by many. The regular class should not carry the weight of the AP class since the work levels are not the same. A regular class that satisfies our least capable student may not be a learning opportunity for our most academically gifted student, and our easiest AP class may be too challenging for our least academically gifted student. That’s why we need both.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm
    Permalink

    DemBones,
    This is not a new issue. The administration was aware of problems with this policy back in 2009. Good question as to why it has taken so long to provide a remedy. High-achieving athletes/Belles in the Class of 2013 should not have their GPA diluted again simply because they are an athlete or Belle. Once a problem is identified it should be corrected and not allow the penalized group to continue to be penalized. That being said, I agree that #2 should be able to take his 4.5 extracurricular GPA-exempt.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm
    Permalink

    Mary L: I think you confuse smart and intellectual. It is typically the most intellectual students who are in the top 10 of any given class, not the smartest.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm
    Permalink

    HPHS is full of the best and the brightest. The very best and brightest may or may not play this grade game.

    Some of the top 10 might be smartest or most intellectual, but most have just been two things: (1) most knowledgeable for the longest time about “the rules,” like taking 4.0 requirements through a different school, doing French instead of Chinese, staying out of band except maybe for one year, and other seemingly random choices; and (2) hardest working, willing to take all AP’s, spend more time studying, and do extra credit work to get the desired 97’s.

    Playing the class rank game doesn’t help make a well-rounded student, and doesn’t get you into the Ivies, but it is there if a student chooses to play it. The Board can’t honestly say that fractional GPA points matter enough that they are compelled to do a fix for the athletes, but then tell #2 and others that the rule change is no big deal because fractional GPA points don’t matter.

    @Mary L. Why now? Do the athletes finally have special friends on the Board, just as a few Belle parents did last year? I don’t know, but maybe you do.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm
    Permalink

    Take a look at the Class of 2012 elementary school reunions in today’s PCP. Based on the pictures it appears that getting into Texas this year was based on going to Hyer, not GPA.

    Elementary school parents – better move to Hyer district now if you want a better chance of getting into UT.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm
    Permalink

    Dembones, why not now? It is not a perfect solution but it is better/offers less harm than the old system. You seem very upset that one group might not fair as well as it had been, but relatively unconcerned that a large group of kids have been unnecessary penalized for the last few years.
    The best system will not provide opportunities to ‘play the class rank game’. There might still be flaws that will hopefully be worked out, but the flaws are less than they were.

    Reply
  • June 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm
    Permalink

    DemBones,
    You continue to reinforce my point. Fractional points absolutely matter. The #2 – #3 situation demonstrates this. The point is that if we are ranking the class, it should be done as fairly and even-handedly as possible and based on academic performance on an even-playing field–core academic subjects or state-required courses that everyone must take. Extracurricular electives, which make a student more well-rounded, should be encouraged particularly in our highest achievers who need an outlet from their academic rigor perhaps more than anyone. It is counterintuitive to have an extracurricular penalize our top students while actually helping everyone else. Simply not fair and completely against the tenet of encouraging our high-achievers to be well-rounded.

    Nothing guarantees anyone getting into any college. What I have been talking about really has nothing to do with getting into college although automatic admission to state universities is yet another reason to make certain rank is assigned fairly.

    I agree with your first full paragraph above and have no problem with point number 2, but it is possible for policy to negate the effects of number 1, which would be desirable.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 7:50 am
    Permalink

    I’ll go farther than Mary L. and say that ALL students with GPA>4.0 should have theirs calculated based on core academic subjects, only.
    However, I feel a need to correct two points:

    Two years of 4.0s went into the GPAs of ALL students in PE/Athletics prior to the Classes of 2011 and 2012 (and the GPAs of students in those classes who didn’t realize they could exempt those two years of PE/Athletcs grades at the time they started at HPHS).

    Parents of performing arts students with GPA>4.0 have been trying to get equal treatment of performing arts students and athletes since at least 2007.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 8:21 am
    Permalink

    The policy of 2009 negatively impacted ALL seniors who chose to take any courses with a greater value than a 4.0, whether it was TAG, Pre-AP, or AP courses. This affected athletes, fine arts, journalism, band, Belles, cheer, etc., since ALL of the seniors of 2013 have had to carry the SAME 4.0 for all 3 years. No one student has benefitted from the policy of 2009. And over the 3 years, I personally have discussed it with our counselor and both Dr. Bryce and Dr. Orr, and nothing had been done to change it because I was told there was nothing they could do about it. So, we played by the rules.

    Kudos to the athletes, Belles, and Cheer parents for organizing themselves and getting the attention of the board, as yes, a fair change needs to be made. However, while it was being done earlier this spring the Board and Administration never made any announcement to the HPISD community about the discussions. Maybe if communication had been made and more input considered, then these kinks could have been worked out and a new policy that let all students exempt a course that “negatively impacted” their gpa could have been passed. But once again, it didn’t happen and we can’t go back and change things.

    But to change it unfairly, even if the policy is a step in the right direction, is simply unfair. Let’s deal with the policy they have passed that will not allow all seniors to be treated equally. Remember, these seniors have been treated equally up to this point. So this issue of the fine arts and journalism getting an extra bump no longer applies to this senior class of 2013 since the athletes/belles/cheer students are gettng the exemption. If they take any AP courses, they are getting negatively impacted by anything less than a 5.0. I am not saying the bump for 4th year fine arts and journalism was fair in the first place, but it didnt apply to every senior in those courses anyways. So go ahead, with this new policy, get rid of the bump, but let those seniors that the exemption. That too would be an even playing field.

    Honestly, I don’t know what the best overall policy would be for our school. Am glad to hear the Administration is studying it further. If it was based soley on grades in core subjects, the current top 10 would be totally different. Would that be fair to the seniors, no it would not this late in the game, and I am saying that knowing that my student could possibly move higher. If only core subjects, or what is required to graduate is used for gpa, then what motivates students to take AP European History,AP Psychology, AP Economics, or AP Art?

    There are so many factors that affect a good policy for our HPHS students. Let’s strive to find the best policy and apply it to whatever Class can benefit entirely from it. In the meantime, let ALL seniors chose to exempt one course that “negatively impacts” their gpa.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 8:22 am
    Permalink

    @B & MaryL. The athletes have been no more penalized the last few years than journalists, musicians, debaters, etc.

    Making this change affect this year’s seniors is unfair.
    When the Board reduced PE requirements from 3 to 2, it did not apply the change to the class of 2012 because they had been playing under the old rule for more than a year. Why now does the Board decide to change the rules that Class of 2013 has been playing under for three years?

    There are two issues here. One is fixing the system, which I encourage. Other districts have attacked the same problem. The Board should learn from them, do it right. (What they have done here is mere tinkering.)

    The other issue, my issue, is making changes fairly. Knocking #2 out of his or her position and changing who’s in the Top 10 at this late stage–even if they all perform the very best this year–is not doing it fairly. Period.

    It is as if the Board has in mind certain individual students they want to help at the expense of others. And that both angers and saddens me.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 8:53 am
    Permalink

    Here is some context for the newbies:

    The change in class rank reporting in 2009 converted HPHS from being a pressure cooker for ALL kids with GPA>4.0 to being an even worse pressure cooker for those in the Top 15%.

    Overnight, 11-15% went from having documentation of their position in the class to not having that – the pace of the rat race to make the Top 10% increased. In 2009, performing arts parents increased their efforts to get those courses removed from GPA calculations, like athletics (either 2 or 4 years).

    Mr. Kelly refers to those parents in the original March 29th PCP print article.

    The June 12th decision was a complete slap in the face to all of the Class of 2013 parents who have been working on this for years.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm
    Permalink

    Someone please print blog this out and deliver it to all of the board members. You all have great points, and while we don’t all agree on the details, we all agree it’s not working and it’s not right. A Town Hall meeting needs to be held and more than a few parents opinions need to be considered.

    @Hmmmm…. you made my night. Hysterical! Darn, if only I had known that earlier!

    Also, why arent the board minutes from 2009 still up or archived on the HPISD website? Would be nice for us newbies to be able to research.

    Reply
  • June 24, 2012 at 3:17 pm
    Permalink

    It’s quite simple really. I think we ALL agree that no student’s GPA (and therefore rank) should be penalized for achieving the maximum grade in an extracurricular activity. This only serves to discourage participation in extracurriculars and is unfair to those who do participate even though it unfairly lowers their academic GPA. I also think most are beginning to realize that the preferential GPA bumps given to certain extracurriculars and not to others has been an unfair and unwarranted advantage to those in the select groups which has made an inaccurate assignment of rank especially of those students with GPAs between 4.0 and 4.5 (top 10% range).

    Take extracurriculars out of the equation (at a minimum after state requirements are met) and there would not be an argument that the system is not equitable or fair. A student could enjoy his extracurricular activities without concern that his participation will be detrimental to his GPA. This can be accomplished with GPA-exemption for extracurriculars (with no preferential bumps) or by determining RIC and top 10% based on core academic subjects or state-requirements.

    The June 12th decision was an improvement over the prior policy though not perfect. To have done nothing and to have allowed high-achieving athletes/Belles with GPAs above 4.0 to have continued to be further penalized by their participation would not be acceptable.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm
    Permalink

    @Mary L.

    If you repeat, “The new rule is simple and fair,” enough times, you and Karl Rove think that will make it true. It is “an improvement” to you because it improves your own child’s class rank. If your child were a journalist with a GPA > 4.5, you would not think it “an improvement.”

    If the policy of the new rule is desirable, either leave the seniors out of it or allow seniors to exempt all electives next year–not just athletics, Belles, and cheerleading. That would be fairer, so are you lobbying the Board to do that?

    Reply
  • June 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm
    Permalink

    I have never said “The new rule is simple and fair.”

    In fact, I have always argued for GPA-exemption for all extracurriculars with no GPA bumps for any extracurriculars. This would be simple and fair.

    The new rule IS an improvement for everyone EXCEPT a student with over a 4.5 that is not given the option for exemption. As I have stated many times, NO extracurricular should ever hurt a student’s GPA. I honestly do not know how this policy will affect my child’s rank, but I would NEVER want my child to be elevated over someone more academically deserving based on his choice of a trumped up GPA in an extracurricular or because someone else was penalized by their choice of extracurricular. My goal is for fairness across the board no matter how that ultimately effects my child, and let me be clear: I do not think number #3 should surpass #2 because #3 gets to exempt his athletics and #2 is forced to average in a 4.5 that dilutes his GPA.

    In answer to your last question–YES. #2 deserves a remedy.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2012 at 11:39 am
    Permalink

    Parents,
    Once again…only addressing the Seniors in this issue.
    If you feel that all seniors should get to exempt an elective if it negatively impacts their GPA in fine arts or journalism, along with the currently policy for Athletics, Belles, and Cheer, then you need to contact your HPISD BOARD members NOW. They are the only ones who can make a change.
    Apparently, when the policy was passed, there were a list of courses that were allowed for exemption that was also presented to the Board and included in the polciy. As we know, journalism and fine arts was not on the list because of the GPA bump of 4.5 for the 4th year. Not sure the Board members understood the implications of how a 4.5 could negatively impact a student.

    Our Administration cannot add any courses to the exemption list unless the Board approves them.
    Please help the Board understand how unfairly this rule is to students that are taking AP 5.0 courses and participating in journalism and fine arts. Because if the policy remains in place, then several injustices will happen to students who participate in those courses without an exemption.

    If we truly believe the policys is an “improvement” for our Senior Class, then it should apply to all students in this class and the current policy does not.

    Don’t waste time, please contact any of the Board members you may know, or contact the President, Leslie Melson.

    Seniors typically do not get their junior year transcript until after school starts, so those hovering around the top 10 or top 10% may have to make a decision on the first day of school without knowing how it truly affects them. Act Now.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2012 at 11:40 am
    Permalink

    sorry for typos….was going too fast.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Another Mother Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *