Give freedom to our students: AP class grading policy change

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Petition II: AP class grading policy change

Current AP class policy: AP classes are  weighted on a 6.0 scale and regular class on a 4.0 scale; students can select all AP classes, up to 7 each semester.

This AP class policy creates many issues:

1. It creates harsh competition environment and increase the burden of students: because the ranking within a school is a big factor for college selection, the students who want to get into better colleges are forced to take all 6.0 classes to compete with peers in the same school. This puts significant pressure on students and results in less sleeping time which may lead to depression in some cases. It is well known that nearly half of the students in many classes are sleeping during first two periods because they sleep average 4 to 6.5 hours, and sometimes 3 to 4 hours. This unlimited number of AP classes only increases burden and creates unnecessarily tough competition within the school, but not help PISD students to compete with other schools. Ranking and GPA are not comparable between different ISDs due to different class selection and grading policies. A Dawson High School alumnus who is now in Harvard said that few students in her class in Harvard have more than 7~8 AP classes in total before they go to college.  While in PISD, many students who always select 6.0 classes will have about 16~18 AP classes in total at graduation.  Extremely high number of AP classes won't help students enter best colleges but it does deprive them of their sleeping time, causing a negative impact on their physical health.

2. It prevents or discourages students from pursuing their own interests: the AP 6.0 policy compels students to take 6.0 classes in all subjects for higher ranking and GPA regardless of their personal interest. Students have their own interest and career inspiration, and many lose the opportunities to delve more into what they wanted to learn due to this policy. For example, some students wanted to get into medical field and learn more health/medical related classes, but they cannot due to many of these are 4.0 classes. It is unfair that this policy penalized a Dawson school student, a National Merit finalist,  with a passion in dancing and took dancing class with 4.0; her ranking is significantly pulled lower by this 4.0 class even though she did outstanding performance in dancing class. Many students are also forced to take PE online, just to earn the credit without affecting their ranking and GPA, but daily physical exercises are more beneficial for these students than just study. This also prevents students who have strong interest in computer science from choosing a 4.0 web design class which is more beneficial to them than picking up a 6.0 class in social studies only to ensure higher ranking. Students are overwhelmed by so many AP classes that they are left with no time to develop their own career interest and work on something really meaningful to them, such as sports, robotics or arts. From the top, it may seem that current 6.0 policy gives students completely freedom to select 4.0 or 6.0 classes, but it actually forces students who are aiming for better colleges to take all 6.0 class no matter they like it or not, because just one 4.0 class will drop the ranking significantly and may lose opportunities to get into best colleges. This policy encourages ruthless competition for ranking, and extinguishes their inspiration of interests.

Proposed change for AP classes:

Students have the freedom to choose any class they want, AP or not, but only up to 5 classes may be counted for the 6.0 point weight. For example, a student can select 7 AP classes, but only 5 of them will have the 6.0 scale, and 2 of them will have the 4.0 scale. The proposed change is similar to the GPA ranking system currently used by Memorial high school.

 Reason of proposed AP grading: Many ISDs have been trying to reduce the burden and tense competition on ranking, and encourage students to develop their own interests. Some use A, B, C for GPA calculation (such as HISD) which will significantly reduce the competition, while St. John's School give AP class little advantages, with only extra 3 points (out of 100) compared with normal classes. In Memorial High school, up to 4 AP classes can have 6.0 point grading, no matter how many AP class students choose. In short, we are proposing a grading system similar to Memorial High school.

The major advantage of this system is  to encourage students to take AP classes but not force them to take all AP classes. Instead, it gives them the opportunity to choose their interested classes. In this way, students can choose major AP subjects, then two other classes they are interested in, such as band, team sports, PE, dancing, art, or any other beneficial course, AP or not. They would not have to do the GPA grade waiver for band and team sports team, and they do not have to do online PE anymore. It leaves more time to develop their own interests, more time to sleeping with reduced stress. We talked with some parents in Memorial High school, nearly all of them are appreciating this policy which give their children freedom to develop their own interests and still be able to learn many AP classes for best colleges.

Parents in Pearland ISD
Feb, 2018 

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