GPA: Intelligence or Obedience?

Grade point average (GPA) is a system that is supposed to accurately assess the average performance of a student, however, it could misrepresents the capabilities of a student because it is based purely on the points earned in a class rather than the information learned during the class’ lectures.

Marty Downs, ‘17, was asked whether or not he thought the GPA system was an accurate way to assess a student’s average performance. He said, “The GPA is not an effective way to judge someone’s performance because a student, or child, or whoever is being judged learn in different ways…”

Downs may be onto something because we asked Mrs. Moore, an English teacher at Redwood high school, what she thought about the GPA system as a teacher. Moore said, “Honestly, I do think GPA is an accurate assessment of [a] student’s average performance, with one caveat; in order for GPA to matter… the teacher must have a variety of ways in which they assess the student on their ability to learn. Often times teacher rely solely on multiple choice, short answer, or composition-type assessments. The students we teach are so diverse and therefore the assessments should be diverse as well.”

The problem with the GPA system seems to be the convergent thinking that the system implements. Downs commented, “It just shows a certain kind of smart, not your smart.” I think Marty is absolutely right because with Moore’s argument it becomes pretty apparent that some students fall short on their GPA because they are not allowed to show their strong suits because they simply aren’t good at multiple choice or short answer testing.

GPA also has a negative effect on students through stress. Because of the GPA system, students are focused on achieving a good grade rather than actually learning in the class. Educational classes essentially turn into a game in which the student is more concerned about acquiring the virtual points that will give them an A rather than actually learning the material. School literally becomes menial labor to students as they complete worksheet after worksheet either by copying or dull work.

This may even lead to students cheating in order to get that grade. Moore agreed and said, “Many of these students LOVE learning, but are so bogged down by ‘getting the A’, that they result to cheating to achieve that.” The incentive to learn is vastly overshadowed by the incentive to have six or more A’s on a transcript.

GPA is a system that has its pros, but it is ultimately flawed because it pushes students to play a game in order to get into college rather than learn the fundamental basics for a great education. The problem lies in the convergent thinking that it applies to students. The diverse crowd of students at any given high school are molded into workers at a young age rather than students, so a better solution for now would be to encourage diverse thinking through different forms of testing rather than the menial labor that countless worksheets encourage.

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