Honors course grade weighting should be added back

This letter was read to the school board at the April 23, 2019 meeting.

LBHS tried to be forward thinking, they made a decision to unweight honors courses, based on limited data in an evolving storm. Were trends indicating this may be the way to go? Maybe, but for every trend in this direction there was an opposite trend. In fact, other early adopters (Capistrano Valley and Palo Alto High Schools) thought this was also a good idea. But they have since recognized the dynamics have changed, they owned the shortcomings and made it right by redacting the unweighting of honors courses.

The purpose of honors courses is to increase rigor for the student and to prepare them for the next level AP and college coursework. It also allows students to explore areas of interest. The weighting of honors grades reduces stress and actually encourages students to explore.

LBHS is aligning with the University of California (UC) for standards even though 87 percent of students go to non-UC schools.

LBHS removed honors designation from geometry, which means universities will never look at it as an honors course and recalculate this course with a weighted grade.

LBHS took their rigorous honors courses in core subjects and unweighted them (Honors English, Honors Spanish, Honors Geometry, Honors Algebra II).

Why would LBHS send the message to the universities, even UCs, that our honors courses we have offered for years are not rigorous enough? This is the message we are now sending by removing the grade weight.

Highly selective UCs – Berkeley and UCLA – include uncapped weighted GPAs and they weight freshman year in their admissions process. Private schools do this all the time!

LBHS now limits freshman to a maximum 4.0 GPA even with taking Honors English, Accelerated Geometry, and Honors Spanish II. How does this present our kids in the best light for private universities and out of state public schools? Yes, even UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Cal Poly SLO.

Neighboring districts’ high schools still offer weighted grades and a plethora of UC-approved and non-approved honors courses in core subjects (English, math, science, and language). They recognized the value of allowing a student to present themselves in the best possible light to colleges. This allows students to make the initial cut in the admission review process based on GPA and get to the holistic round of application reviews. 

Weighting honors courses presents students in the best possible light for merit scholarships, most only look at transcripts. Even LBHS scholarships only look at self-reported weighted GPAs.

I urge the staff and school board to let the students out of the dark and allow them to shine in the light before this policy does irreversible damage with the Class of 2020 and beyond.

Add this item to the May 28th agenda as an actionable item and vote to reinstate Honors Geometry and all honors grade weighting retroactively and continue to add weighted honors classes as staff deems necessary.

Terri Meisberger

Laguna Beach