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Parent of WHS student wants school to add weight to GPAs

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A parent of a Watertown High School senior wants the school district to start adding weight to grade point averages for students taking advanced courses.

Pamela M. Favret addressed the Watertown City School District Board of Education on Feb. 5, stating many colleges look at weighted GPAs from students throughout the nation when deciding how much scholarship money to offer.

“Typically, (colleges) look at the transcripts with weighted and unweighted GPA, and they typically use the larger number,” she said.

She found this out the hard way after her daughter, Samantha, was accepted into several schools to pursue an occupational therapy degree. A five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree program was not offered at any State University of New York colleges, Mrs. Favret said.

Several college deans, including from Le Moyne College, said a larger scholarship could have been offered if her daughter had a higher GPA. After Le Moyne’s dean added weight to her daughter’s GPA, her academic scholarship increased $20,000.

In one case, said Mrs. Favret, Samantha could have competed for a full ride to Gannon University in Erie, Pa., but the dean would not add weight to her GPA, saying it was the school district’s job to do that.

“She was within $1,000 of the maximum award,” said Mrs. Favret. “That would have qualified her to go back to compete for a full ride. He said her SAT scores were fabulous. It was her GPA that was the problem.”

She said no other schools in Jefferson County add weight to a student’s GPA for taking advanced courses, so she wants to make sure students and parents do not run into the same problem in the future.

“College preparatory schools understand the importance of the GPA and weight the grades,” she said. “You’re competing with students across the country.”

Additionally, she said, if students are in debt because they did not qualify for undergraduate scholarships they otherwise might have received, they would not be able to pay for a graduate degree if they need it.

“It could have a far-reaching impact,” she said. “You’ve got to look at what schools are doing nationwide, because our kids are competing with them.”

Board President Michael R. Flick said because it was the first time the board members were apprised of the situation, he would let them “chew on it” before deciding on a solution.

Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said Mrs. Favret was the first to bring up the issue.

“I’ll research this with our high school guidance counselor,” he said.

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