IB dropping my classes no cAP


Students have been dropping non-AP and IB classes from their transcripts in order to heighten their GPA’s

 Arlington County Public Schools is known for its competitive nature. This competition is only exemplified by the school’s focus on International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which use a 5.0 grade point average (GPA) scale rather than the baseline 4.0. At the school, all students who achieve a 4.0 or higher receive the honorable title of valedictorian. In addition, the majority of colleges require that students report their GPAs, putting even more stress on students.

October 1 was the deadline for students to drop their middle school classes. Many students rushed frantically to their counselors to eliminate classes they’d received A’s in, solely because they weren’t on the 5.0 grading scale in order to raise their GPA. 

Students were made aware via an email from their counselor that dropping these middle school courses may lead to other complications including losing SOL (Standards of Learning) exams or moving from the Advanced Studies Diploma to the Standard Diploma. However, many students dropped these classes despite the risks associated with their decision because they wanted their GPAs to be as high as possible. 

However, this sort of behavior fosters a community of students hyper-focused on numbers and scores. Somehow, the topic of conversation at the lunch table always ends up being about college, standardized testing and GPAs. Students are comparing themselves to their peers on a daily basis, causing their anxiety about high school and college to rise and their self esteem to plummet. 

The reality of the situation is that most people don’t really want to hear about what GPA you have. Telling people your GPA will either boost your confidence and diminish others’, or vice versa. Why contribute to this maddening and competitive cycle?

AP and IB classes are meant to provide students with the opportunity to challenge themselves in the areas they are passionate about, however, in many cases, these courses have had the opposite effect. Many students have lost their passion for learning because they use classes with the 5.0 weight for the sole purpose of boosting their GPA. This means they are missing out on or dropping classes that they would have succeeded in, and may have enjoyed, that are on the 4.0 scale. 

Students should be focusing their energy on excelling in their classes despite the GPA weight associated with them. It’s incredibly disheartening that there is more worth placed on a student’s GPA than there is on the grade earned in the class or, more importantly, the knowledge gained from it.