Pro/Con: GPA Disabled
January 7, 2019
About midway through the first semester of the 2018-19 school year, CHS students in all grade levels discovered their PowerSchool GPA calculator had been disabled–permanently. This is the first time something like this has happened, and the decision by the counseling department sparked controversy among students. The Globe staff decided to look into the issue and both sides of the argument in our latest pro/con.
For many CHS students, a majority of their lives are spent stressing about grades. Obsessively checking their grades and GPA on PowerSchool becomes a daily routine for these students.
So, when the message “GPA Disabled” popped up on PowerSchool a few weeks ago, everyone was shocked. While some feel disabling GPA was the wrong decision, it can bring many benefits to students.
As CHS counselor Joyce Bell notes, “The GPA students were seeing was not an accurate representation of their GPA.” Grades and GPAs are not finalized until the end of a semester, and are cumulative with GPAs from previous years, so having an ongoing, progressive GPA is almost pointless. “GPAs are not meant to, and should not, fluctuate,” Bell said.
Constantly checking their GPA and being alerted the second it changes can cause high stress levels in students. Students have become obsessive over their GPA, checking it the second they got a notification.
This causes a high-stress environment that can have a negative impact on a student’s mental health.
“That Pavlovian mindset of a bell rings and I check my GPA is not healthy,” Bell said. “If we create a culture of learning first and checking grades second, this can help to relieve some of the stress.”
While a majority of our culture is focused on numbers, grades and awards, our goals should be aimed towards learning and improving our society.
When students are notified each time a grade goes into PowerSchool and their GPA changes, stress levels go up and students are constantly thinking about their GPA. Eliminating a visible GPA to students between semesters can help to reduce some of this stress.
Another reason disabling GPA is beneficial, is because colleges use GPAs in varied and different ways. While colleges do use GPAs as a major factor in their selection process, “Colleges calculate GPA on their own, so each school’s individual system doesn’t matter as much,” sophomore Julia Bautz said.
And, as Mrs. Bell noted, students were sending in their current GPAs for schools and academic programs. These GPAs are not accurate. Each school has a unique system for calculating and weighting GPA and grades, which are not finalized until a student’s semester transcript is finalized. Eliminating GPA in between semesters can help make students happier and healthier.
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“GPA Disabled.” That was the first thing many students saw when they unlocked their phones one fall morning. Apparently, the number wouldn’t be visible until the end of the semester. Complaints immediately arose, with many students feeling blind without their grade point averaage. While many parents and teachers supported the change, the results will not be of benefit.
Joyce Bell, a counselor at CHS, explained why the GPA was disabled in the first place.
“The GPA that students were seeing was not an accurate representation of their GPA. GPAs are not meant to and should not fluctuate based upon a teacher putting in a grade, or a test score being entered.”
The disappearance of the grade point average did have a good reason behind it. The GPA of any student is nothing but a number until winter or summer break, and planning to enable it after each semester is a good idea in this respect.
“I think eventually, yes, it will benefit students,” explains Bell. “I think when we create a culture of A). Learning first and B). Looking at the grades second, that will ease some of the stress.”
Putting learning first is a practice that everyone should follow, but that is not how the real world works. Many colleges use the GPA as a major determining factor, and that’s not going to be disabled. Students have a right to see directly what their GPA is, especially those close to graduation.
“We still have a GPA, just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean we don’t have it,” said sophomore Liam Redington.
While it isn’t on PowerSchool, the GPA still exists, and it’s still important. In the real world, GPAs will be visible, but unchangeable. Students should be able to see and improve their GPAs while they still can, and disabling it does nothing to help.
School officials may have shut down the GPA function to stop the stress that comes with constantly checking PowerSchool for your grade. However, the school is fixing nothing by shutting off the GPA.
“There is such a competitive nature in Clayton that I don’t think that stress can ever be disabled,” said Nyssia Crandall, a CHS student.
To many, removing the source of stress is a quick and easy solution to anxiety. But, the removal of the source of stress, called the stressor, can actually increase stress in children, according to the Child Mind Institute.
“Helping children avoid the things they are afraid of will make them feel better in the short term, but it reinforces the anxiety over the long run.”
If students are truly anxious and stressed about their grades, removing them from our daily lives is the last thing we want to do.
Taking away our stressors now is subconsciously telling us that our future stressors will be disabled too, and we will develop bad coping mechanisms.
I know the school has good intentions for disabling the GPA, and I know that many students are overly stressed about it. But, in the long term, a hidden GPA will hurt more than help.
Max Keller is a sophomore at CHS. This is his first year on the Globe. He is a reporter and enjoys writing for the news section. Outside of the Globe, he can be...