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Norwalk High School Students Launch Petition Protesting GPA Calculation

A petition started by a Norwalk High senior asks the Norwalk Board of Ed to re-consider how GPA is calculated.
A petition started by a Norwalk High senior asks the Norwalk Board of Ed to re-consider how GPA is calculated. Photo Credit: Max Schwartz

More than 455 people have signed the petition Request an Equitable GPA/Ranking System at Norwalk High School started by Norwalk High School Senior Chaz Bethel-Brescia as of Friday morning May 18.

The point of it? To have the Norwalk Board of Education re-examine how grade point average (GPA) is calculated at Norwalk High School.

A good GPA is something high school students strive for and can make the difference when it comes to college acceptance and especially to class standing.

In March, Norwalk High changed the way it calculates GPA by giving members of its Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) program a full quality point for semester-long classes taken at Norwalk Community College. And the non-NECA students that had been top of their class, found their position changed. In fact, the Valedictorian switched from an NHS student to one graduating from the NECA program.

NECA, the program visited by First Daughter Ivanka Trump last fall, allows accepted students to earn an Associate’s Degree from Norwalk Community College while earning their high school diploma. Thus, the students enrolled in the program take courses at NCC as well as Norwalk High. This year, with 12 students, marks the first graduating class of the NECA program.

According to Bethel-Brescia’s petition, the weighting of quality points (a 5.0 for an A in a year-long Advanced Placement Class vs. a 5.0 for an A in a semester-long college course) as well as counting college courses on a high school transcript is inequitable. If an NHS student takes a semester or summer course at a college (like NCC or UConn), his or her grade does not appear on the transcript and is not included in GPA calculations.

“A straight ‘A’ student in the traditional Norwalk High School program willing to take a full load of honors and AP courses cannot compete mathematically with a similar straight ‘A’ student in the NECA program,” said the petition. “Comparing these two programs numerically leads to rankings that are not equitable.”

According to the Hour , Bethel-Brescia was among the students addressing the Board of Education at a meeting on Tuesday, May 15, asking that this issue be addressed before graduation. Fixes proposed include keeping the rankings for the program separate from the traditional high school or removing college courses from GPA calculations.

Students, administrators and supporters of NECA naturally disagree. A year-long A.P. class along with the required grade on an A.P. test, for instance, only earns you college credit for a semester-long college course.

Superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools Dr. Steven Adamowski has urged the Board of Education to look at the issue, since it’s possible the same contention can arise when Brien McMahon graduates its first students from its own International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, where students earn an IB diploma that is recognized by universities around the world, next year.

"The Board was unaware of the change in grading practices," Mike Lyons, a member of the Board, told Daily Voice. "We will definitely have this evaluated long-term by the Policy Committee and are looking at possible equitable solutions for this year."

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