Reasons why Laguna Beach High School’s honors course grade weight policy should be reinstated and why it matters

Many parents and students would like to see the honors course grade weight policy reinstated. The board voted 3-2 in 2016 to pull honors course weight from all except maybe one or two classes. The information offered at the presentation on the night of February 9, 2016 was loosely based on managing student stress levels, students gaming the system for class rank, creating an equal playing field for all students, and choosing a standard by which to align our honors level courses (UC).

We combed through the data trying to understand that fateful evening and how the data was used to make their decision. What we have found are a lot more questions than answers. Questions concerning the UC standards for an honors course – are our existing honors courses approved by the UC system? If they are not now were they ever UC approved? Why were classes considered rigorous enough and given weight but now suddenly need a new standard and are therefore unweighted? How does the board intend to ensure that this standard will be implemented from here on out? Will they reinstate the weight after the UC standard is applied since the weight will be sanctioned by the UC system and is already accepted by private and other non-UC schools?

Laguna Beach High School is a public school, not an elite, private academy. We may have a good reputation amongst colleges, but we cannot compare with small, exclusive, private high schools that impose a vigorous application and testing process just to gain entry to the school. These elite schools don’t need to weight anything because colleges already know that all students have been vetted as high performers and achievers. LBHS on the other hand, must provide a comprehensive offering for all types of students and above all, we must provide every opportunity for students to thrive and excel.

I have two children that have graduated and have gone on to a great school. They had the benefit of weighted honors course grading and acknowledge that the rigorous honors coruses offered at the high school helped prepare them for the rigors of college. Allowing the grade weight motivates students to take academic risks and seek a challenge without worrying that it will affect their overall GPA. GPA does matter. Standardized test scores also matter (look at all the expensive programs out there for students taking the ACT and SAT). It all matters.

Amy Kramer

Laguna Beach