AP Classes Should Weigh More than Honors Counterparts

By Harry Wang, Staff Writer

As a National Blue-Ribbon high school, CHS has many hard-working students who take several Advanced Placement (AP) courses each year. However, the MCPS policy of weighing AP and Honors classes as the same credit value in student’s weighted grade point average (GPA) is unfair. It hurts the students who take extra time and push themselves to take AP classes but are not rewarded for their hard work.

At MCPS, class weights are divided into two categories: weighted classes (Honors and AP) and unweighted classes. While an A in an unweighted class earns a student credit of four points, an A in an Honors or AP class earns the student five points.

However, there is a problem with this grading system: The weighted GPA of a straight A student taking all AP classes and another straight A student taking all Honors classes would both be a 5.0, but the student taking the AP classes may be working much harder for those grades.

Students who take more AP classes often have more stress and a greater workload due to the high demands of AP classes. According to a May 2012 US News article, some AP students do homework for AP classes till as late as five in the morning. Unfortunately, in MCPS students’ hard work goes underappreciated because, on paper, it has the same value as the work of students who take Honors courses, which are often considered easier.

This system is unacceptable. It is counterproductive for MCPS, which is known for its academic rigor, to use a system that may discourage top students from taking the highest course levels. By making rigorous AP courses worth the same value as Honors courses, MCPS diminishes the sense of accomplishment that AP students deserve to feel after their hard work.

According to an Observer poll of 56 CHS students, 82.1 percent disagree with the current MCPS grading system.

This GPA system is not used nationwide, or even statewide. In Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) in Maryland, AP classes weigh more than Honors. An A in an Honors class weighs four and half points, while an A in an AP class weighs five points.

This logical system rewards students who push themselves with rigorous classes, thus successfully rewarding students for their hard work.

Taking Honors classes is a stressful task as well, and those classes do require hard work and critical thinking. However, the amount of effort that goes into an AP class usually outweighs that of the Honors class. The GPA points for AP classes should correspond to the greater level in workload and difficulty.
The solution to this problem should be a compromise between Honors and AP class weights. While MCPS should make AP classes weigh more than they do right now, they should refrain from taking away too much from Honors classes. For example, MCPS can keep the weight for Honors classes — 5 points, while adding weight on AP classes, such as 5.5 points.

MCPS should change its policy. There will always be motivated students who are going to take AP classes, but increasing the weight of AP classes will only motivate more students to challenge themselves. These hard-working students should be rewarded for their efforts by an additional boost to their GPA.