In the competition for college admittance, students in Harford County public high schools are hamstrung by the school board’s policy on weighted grade point averages, according to Harford school officials who are recommending that the board revise its policy. The proposal announced at a meeting Tuesday would increase the extra numerical value, or weight, currently awarded for a letter grade of “B” or “C” in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and allow for such weighted grades in other rigorous courses.
Joe Schmitz, head of middle/high school instruction and performance, told board members that current policy puts HCPS students at a disadvantage compared with students in surrounding jurisdictions because of the limited number of courses HCPS deems eligible for weighted grades, and the point value it assigns to those grades.
Supervisor of Guidance and Counseling Kevin Ensor added that the volume of college applications has increased such that computers often perform the initial reviews, and students who do not reach a certain weighted GPA are not getting a second look. “It’s not just for college admissions but it’s also for scholarship selection as well… those schools that do not have the weighted grades are at a big disadvantage,” he said.
Ensor followed up with an anecdote about a guidance counselor who calculated his own son’s GPA and found that the son would not have gotten into Penn State under the current policy, but would have gotten in and qualified for a scholarship under the weighted grading scale used in Montgomery County Public Schools.
The proposed policy revision for HCPS maintains the point value of 5.0 for an “A” in a course with weighted grades (versus 4.0 for an “A” in a standard course). However, the point value for a “B” in a weighted course would increase from 3.75 to 4.0; and the value would rise for a “C” from 2.5 to 3.0. The value for a “D” in a weighted course would drop from 1.25 to a 1.0 under the proposal.
In addition, the revised policy would authorize Superintendent Barbara Canavan or her designee to make additional courses eligible for weighted grades, such as those in the Project Lead the Way Pre-engineering and Biomedical sequence, the Aberdeen Science and Math Academy, and North Harford’s Natural Sciences and Agricultural Science Magnet Program.
The existing policy entitled “Report Cards and Marking System”, and the proposed revised policy appear below. Board action on the revised policy is expected at a future board business meeting.