The Dark Side of Weighted Grades

Many students across the nation state that they wish they had weighted grades implemented within their school system, but they do so without realizing the benefits and negative aspects of having a weighted grading system. Those who do push for the weighted grade system are usually the students who are in honors or AP level classes who would feel that their grades would better represent their school efforts if a weighted grade system was set in place, but that is the only aspect of it they look for when wishing for a weighted grade system. Little do they know there are many downfalls to having a weighted grade system within schools.

The basics of weighted grades are that higher level classes are worth more points than basic level classes when calculating your overall GPA. Meaning if you take and honors Science class, for example, and do well in that class along with all of your other classes, you could have a GPA higher than a 4.0. This is due to the honors class being credited more points than an average class. This acknowledges the advanced level of work the student completed.

As it may seem like a great system on the surface, when digging deeper, the system has some flaws that oftentimes go unnoticed when people state they support the weighted grade system.

The discouragement of achieving well in some classes is the first main issue with the weighted grading system. Say you are great at math or science, yet not very strong in english. You then sign up for an AP Math and/or Science class, and a levels English class. You do great in your AP Math class, which is weighted more pointed towards your GPA, but you barely pass your English class, because you simply did not do all of the work or try as hard as you should have in that class. Your GPA, however, could remain at a solid 4.0 still, even if you got a C in English due to the extra points given to you from participating in an AP Math and Science class. Thus, the discouragement of doing well and try hard in all of your classes occurs simply because students can still get away with achieving a 4.0 without really earning it as some other students may have to do.

Another problem associated with the weighted grade system is the lack of the school having AP or honors classes in all subjects for all grades. Only providing basic level classes in English and History for freshman and sophomores, yet honors classes for juniors and seniors then created a disadvantage for the underclassmen who are trying just as hard as or harder than the upperclassmen, yet their grade point average is unable to show it due to the lack of honors and AP classes provided by the school.

Along with that, many schools are only able to provide honors and AP classes in some subjects. By not providing them within all subjects, many students are then put at an unfair disadvantage due to the lack of having the same opportunity as other students to take classes that could affect their GPA more.  This disadvantage contributed to the controversy of support towards one department of the school versus the other, raising, even more, issues and problems within the district.

Although weighted grades may seem like the optimal option to represent great student achievement and accomplishments, there are many flaws to the system. Most people who show support for the weighted grading system do not realize the underlying conflicts that reside within such as discouragement of hard work, discrimination against classes, and the biased of subjects within a school district. One should always dig deeper and see both sides of a system before claiming it is the best way to go.

1 thought on “The Dark Side of Weighted Grades”

  1. Hi Rachael,

    I must respectfully disagree. As for your first point, the discouragement of trying hard in non-weighted classes — first of all, after a weighted grade system is installed, the culture shifts to the point where a 4.0 isn’t all that people strive for — they want more, to compete with the rest of their class. Secondly, colleges will usually still see their unweighted GPA, so this discouragement is pretty minimal.

    Next, your example of only having APs for certain grades. I feel like this is a non-issue just because of the fact that if you don’t have honors/AP classes in freshman or sophomore year, that’s okay because 1) same for everyone in your school/district and 2) you’ll be able to take the APs or honors classes in later years. I’m not sure why you’re trying to compare GPAs of underclassmen with upperclassmen when later on, their GPAs will indeed be comparable when the underclassmen get to take weighted classes.

    What do you think? 🙂


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