Advanced-math classes won’t count in new GPA policy

Students will be affected by a recent change in how grades are transferred to Tempe Union High Schools when a student takes an advanced math class in middle school.

Scheduled to take place in the 2015 school year, the new policy states that students’ GPA (grade point average) received while taking algebra 1-2 and/or geometry in middle school will not be included in calculating their high school class rank or GPA.  

Students who pass these classes will receive a “P” (pass)  for their high school transcript, and the letter grade earned for their middle school transcript.

The fundamental reason for this change is to “level the playing field,” according to Susan Edwards, Corona del Sol principal and former Marcos de Niza registrar. And by doing so, it levels it in more than one way.

“I’ve always thought it was giving some students an advantage,” Edwards said. “If you excelled in language arts, you don’t get ahead—only if you excelled in math.”

CdS registrar Holly Secor agrees.

“If you’re good at math, you could earn more rank points, thus giving you an advantage to becoming valedictorian,” Secor said.

Secor also raises another point.

“We want to be fair to students coming from all over; not just Tempe or Kyrene Elementary. Students come from out of state, and they weren’t given the opportunity to start high school ahead,” Secor said.

Secor also points out that it’s not the rank points that matter most.

“Universities look to the level of math completed,” Secor said.

Eduarda Schroder is the parent of a seventh grader at Kyrene Aprende, and disagrees with Secor.

“Most merit-based scholarships look at your GPA. So, it is in the interest of a serious student to be in a system that allows hard work in middle school to be reflected in the GPA in high school,” Schroder said.

Schroder is a member The Parent Network, a group of parents from Tempe Union High School, Tempe Elementary and Kyrene Elementary districts, working to keep parents informed of changes to the districts and schools. On their online blog, the site owners posted the following example of how this system will now work:

“So, let’s say, a student enters high school, with credit but no grades for Algebra 1-2 and Geometry.  These 2 credits would help fulfill the AIMS requirement of 4 units of Math and then regarding the GPA requirement, GPA would be calculated on 14 classes instead of 16.”

The AIMS requirement Schroder refers to is the AIMS Scholarship, a four-year tuition waiver at ASU, NAU or U of A if the student meets  class and GPA requirements.

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