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WSJ: "A Way for High-School Students to Boost Their GPAs: Take Classes at Other High Schools"

1NJParent1NJParent 2468 replies37 threads Senior Member
edited June 2019 in Parents Forum
Alternative schools appeal to students who want to fix a poor grade at school or polish their transcripts with AP or Honors courses

Will this further the trend of grade inflation, perhaps even more dramatically? Is this the educational equivalent of "a race to the bottom"?
edited June 2019
69 replies
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Replies to: WSJ: "A Way for High-School Students to Boost Their GPAs: Take Classes at Other High Schools"

  • skieuropeskieurope 41025 replies7682 threads Super Moderator
    edited June 2019
    Take Classes at Other High Schools
    This is be highly dependent upon the home HS. My HS did not include any classes outside the HS (online/summer/college/etc) in the GPA.
    edited June 2019
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  • kiddiekiddie 3880 replies242 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    At my daughter's HS, some students pre-took classes the summer before at a local private HS summer program. So they would take a science or math courses during the summer (not including it on their HS transcript) and then ace the class at their actual HS the following year. So taking classes at another HS did boost their GPA!
    edited June 2019
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41025 replies7682 threads Super Moderator
    some students pre-took classes the summer before at a local private HS summer program.
    And they really thought that this was the best use of the summer vacation? SMH
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    I get requests to pre-tutor kids for AP Chem or for math classes. There are also private prep programs around here that are several hours a week all summer to prepare students for specific AP classes. At some high schools in Irvine it would be tough to compete on the curve in some AP classes as a good chuck of the class had extensive summer prep.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41025 replies7682 threads Super Moderator
    I get requests to pre-tutor kids for AP Chem or for math classes.
    IMO, there's a difference between summer classes that are, as an example, "sneak peak" at geometry vs. full-on geometry. I don't have an issue with students taking either (again, may not be the best use of the summer, particularly for older students that can get jobs and have their own transport); my issue was taking the full course in the summer "off the books" and then repeating in the academic year. Certainly it's not illegal, but it is, IMO, disingenuous.at least.
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  • CardinalBobcatCardinalBobcat 165 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited June 2019
    "some students pre-took classes the summer before at a local private HS summer program."

    This was a relatively common practice at my rigorous high school many decades ago -- spending the prior summer either taking the exact course or taking the "regular version" of an upcoming AP course. Today this does seem to be the norm in our area.

    I agree with skieurope's opinion, and didn't do it myself, but many of my friends did, certainly to their advantage in terms of GPA. So many things wrong with this. Sigh.
    edited June 2019
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83780 replies743 threads Senior Member
    Not sure why officially repeating a course gives an unfair advantage. Since college frosh applicants must report all high schools attended, any repeated course will be visible as a repeated course. For the more selective colleges with subjective admissions readings, a repeat of a D or F is understandable, but the original D or F will be detrimental to the student's application. A repeat of a B or C looks like grade grubbing, which will be detrimental to the student's application.

    Pre-tutoring but not officially registering for a course is a more stealthy way of trying to gain an advantage.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41025 replies7682 threads Super Moderator
    Pre-tutoring but not officially registering for a course is a more stealthy way of trying to gain an advantage.
    As with many things, the answer is "it depends." As an example, it may help fill the gaps if the student is moving up a level from CP to H,
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1656 replies8 threads Senior Member
    We did it backwards, lol. Kids' science department at our public HS was not strong so we sent them to be tutored by grad students from the local university over the summer to solidify their understanding of chemistry and physics. They had made A's in their AP classes, but they felt as if all they did was a good job of memorization without fully grasping the underlying concepts. Fast forward to college and both kids had classmates in their math classes who had already taken the applicable level of calculus or higher in HS. GPA padding occurs at all levels. Unfortunately that's what happens when GPA is the goal not the mastery of knowledge.
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 298 replies4 threads Member
    @kiddie But how would that be much different than having a private tutor?
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  • CardinalBobcatCardinalBobcat 165 replies2 threads Junior Member
    "Not sure why officially repeating a course gives an unfair advantage. Since college frosh applicants must report all high schools attended, any repeated course will be visible as a repeated course."

    Only the grade received the second time around (at the student's own high school) would be calculated into the official GPA and class rank. That grade (and, therefore, the student's GPA and class rank) would inevitably be positively impacted by the prior coursework.

    Moreover, as I understood it years ago, students would often take the courses through rigorous "academic summer camps," rather than through traditional high schools, thereby avoiding the need to report. There's a whole industry serving this purpose.

    All of this raises serious questions of privilege, as the option to "pre-take" a class simply doesn't exist for students needing to work during the summer, or for students whose families can't afford to pay for the summer programs, etc., etc.

    There is also a tipping point -- if enough students are coming into a class having already mastered the material, the teacher's expectations may change, potentially further negatively impacting students entering the course without the extensive prior preparation.
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 298 replies4 threads Member
    @CardinalBobcat Yes, summer prepping at costly centers is mostly about privilege and an obsession with prestige. There are such centers in my area. They offer summer prepping courses starting in middle school.

    Your observations about the tipping point is spot on. That’s how you end up with high rates of teen depression, burnout and even suicide in certain areas. No matter how hard you try, the bar keeps going up and the expectations insanely unhealthy.
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 298 replies4 threads Member
    Of course, there are students that simply take a summer course that they cannot fit in during the school year due to sports or music participation. My kid is in band, which takes up 4 periods per 3 trimesters every single year. She is taking two courses this summer. One is through her school district because it is a graduation requirement, and it will count towards her school GPA. The second course is through a rigorous, nationally known provider to meet college admissions requirements. This course will not count towards her school GPA at all since it is not a graduation requirement and the school district is not granting credit.
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  • brantlybrantly 4318 replies78 threads Senior Member
    At my daughter's HS, some students pre-took classes the summer before at a local private HS summer program. So they would take a science or math courses during the summer (not including it on their HS transcript) and then ace the class at their actual HS the following year. So taking classes at another HS did boost their GPA!
    VERY common at my children's high school. In our area, it is almost exclusively the practice of recent immigrants from parts of the world that prioritize grades and scores above everything else. When some people say it's unfair to the children who do not pre-take classes over the summer, the ones who do pre-take say that nobody is stopping anyone else from doing it too.

    I think that anyone who has already taken a course during the summer should not be permitted to re-take it during the school year. That student should be placed in the next class in the sequence.
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 298 replies4 threads Member
    @brantly Yes, it is the same here. When my daughter started thinking those kids were super smart back in elementary school, I had to explain to my daughter that they were not any naturally smarter than her, but that they did math and language work daily at home. That’s how it starts in elementary school, then middle school and up is tutoring and prep classes etc.
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  • kiddiekiddie 3880 replies242 threads Senior Member
    These kids did not report their summer classes on any transcript (and I assume on any college application). Since it was a local private HS nobody was the wiser. Yes, it was expensive and of course only people who could afford it were able to game the system in this manner.

    There was so much GPA gaming taking place, that quite frankly it sickened me. Kids taking study halls instead of electives which were not offered on an honors or AP level (therefore not able to boost their GPA). Kids choosing their languages based on the same criteria (no AP Italian - so no Italian takers.) The school has since responded by adding more honors level classes (chorus, art, English electives, etc.), to keep these classes full (because non-honors class enrollments were down and those classes were in danger of not being offered.)

    These kids got into top ivies with these tactics, so to them it paid off.
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  • PetraMCPetraMC 944 replies7 threads Member
    There is also a tipping point -- if enough students are coming into a class having already mastered the material, the teacher's expectations may change, potentially further negatively impacting students entering the course without the extensive prior preparation.

    Yes, this happens, especially in schools with smaller class size. If 7 of the 12 in the class have already taken it, the class moves much faster and the 5 who didn't probably don't learn as much or do well.
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  • CottonTalesCottonTales 1541 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Just when I think CC has covered every possible way of kids gaming the system, a new one comes up. I would bet in most instances it wasn't the student asking to take the extra class. Helicoptering much?
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 2468 replies37 threads Senior Member
    Are these students going to take the same college courses twice too? If not, how do their parents expect them to do well in college, especially when they aren't with their parents?
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