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Escambia County changes grading system

Escambia County’s Board of Education voted to allow weighted GPA’s into the County’s school system during their meeting on Thursday. Escambia County Superintendent John Knott said that Escambia County’s students have been put at a disadvantage because of the school not having a weighted GPA. The difference between a weighted GPA and an unweighted GPA is that the unweighted GPA doesn’t give additional credit for the more difficult courses. However, weighted GPAs give additional credit for pre-approved courses such as Advanced Placement (AP), honors or dual enrollment courses.

“A weighted GPA is important for when our students apply for state and federal scholarships so that our students can compete with students from other schools that do have a weighted GPA,” Knott said. “We want to make sure our students have the same advantages as other students in the state and country.”

Unweighted GPA’s are strictly on a 4.0 scale, which makes it difficult to credit students who take more difficult courses. For example, if one student has an A in a regular English course, then that student would have a 4.0, but if a student has an A in an AP English course, then that student would also have a 4.0 on the unweighted scale even though the AP student is taking a much more difficult course than the other student. Through the weighted GPA scale, that AP student would have a 4.5 GPA. The weighted GPA will be applied during the 2019-2020 school year.

“My son graduated from a school in the Birmingham area, so he had a better advantage than an Escambia County kid because he took AP and honors classes that have a weighted scale,” W.S. Neal High School Principal Matthew Hodge said. “So, his GPA is going to be higher. When we’re looking at scholarship availability, that weighted score is going to attract colleges more. For us to move in that direction, it is a good thing.”