North Carolina Newspapers

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features
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The future of your report card
kjTTY FROMSON
You’ve all heard the ru
mors, “I heard they were going
to be labeling all the classes as
Honors or AP” or “There’s go
ing to be class ranks next year.”
For the purpose of eliminating
all confusion, here are the facts.
Ms. Gail Hudson,
Head of Counseling Services,
and Mr. Tom Trocano, chemis
try professor, are co-chairs of a
task force designed to address
issues relating to college admis
sions and the use of GPAs.
Also on the committee are nu
merous faculty and members of
the NCSSM staff, two alumni,
two parents, and about ten stu
dents who have volunteered
their time.
The committee has di
vided its task into two parts.
Their first step was to determine
whether there is a problem with
the acceptance rates of NCSSM
students to the colleges of their
choice. To accomplish this, the
committee will compare our ac
ceptance rates to those of other
schools and compare our stu
dents’ profiles to those of stu
dents who are
accepted at top-notch
schools.
Also, Ms.
Hudson has re
quested information
from 67 other consor
tium and 20 magnet
schools around the
country. The commit
tee will be reviewing
other schools’ accep
tance rates, tran
scripts, profiles, and
all of the other ele
ments of a student’s
application that
would be sent to col
leges. Based on this
information and the
statistics that the
committee wilt exam
ine, they will decide if there is a
significant problem in our ac
ceptance rates and the nature
of that problem.
The second part of the
task is to fix whatever may be
wrong with our college applica
tions procedure. Possible ways
M
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'ege rejection
of accomplishing this include,
but are not limited to, changing
the appearance of our transcript
to include more detailed course
descriptions, changing our
course titles or numbers, and
the instating weighted GPAs.
Ms. Hudson firmly be
lieves that all
content
courses
should be
worth at least
one quality
point. Mr.
Trocano
brought up the
issue that there
are only two
quality points
that can be as
signed, and for
courses such
as Chemistry,
where there are
three levels,
the general
course should
be worth more
than a four-
point A, because it is a challeng
ing class as compared to any
other high school’s General
Chemistry courses.
Although there are poten
GPA: our new TLA?
tial problems with having
weighted GPAs, both co-chairs
were adamant about reinforcing
the message that class ranking
will never become a part of the
NCSSM experience.
GPA’s are not un
known to NCSSM. Whenever
a student applies to a service
acadamey such as the Coast
Guard or Air Foce Academies
the school must furnish a nu
merical average of your work at
NCSSM. But under the current
system an A in Advanced Phys
ics gets the same amount of
credit as an A in General Phys
ics. Some would say that’s not
fair. And its not as though the
schools that receive applica
tions from NCSSM don’t com
pute their own GPA’s when they
receive NCSSM applications.
As Mr. Trocano says, “If
what we’re doing is penalizing
you, the students, then we need
to change that.”
Ms. Hudson agrees,
stating that “We want to repre
sent you in a package that’s the
most favorable to you.”
Katye Blackwell
It’s on every college app,
every scholarship app, practi
cally every form that has any
thing to do with reaching Life
Beyond High School; GPA. The
one three-letter acronym that is
not a part of NCSSM
life.. .unfortunately.
In a perfect world, accept
ing the greater challenge and
attending a school with “Sci
ence and Math” in the name
would be information enough
on my academic viability for
anyone investigating my col
lege potential. Well, guess
what: the world is, in fact, not
perfect.
Admissions is a ques
tions of weeding out before se
lecting. First, the “minimum
requirements” are checked, just
to narrow the pool of possibili
ties; then people can dig deeper
into a personality to decide who
might fit. One component of
those minimum requirement for
mulas is frequently the GPA.
That simple two-digit number,
an overall summary of one’s
From the front page ~
most notably first place in
Wright Stuff and third in Scram
bler. The team leaders, were then
faeed with the daunting task of
cutting half of the regionals
team, for only that many people
can participate in the state level
competition. Elango Cheran,
team co-captain, said picking
the A-Team was ineredibly dif
ficult. “I’ve never seen a better
(academic) high school career.
I know I attend a sehool
that finds the overly competi
tive and inaccurate quantifica
tion of intelligence to be archaic
and unneces
sary: We live
in enlight
ened times.
Problem is,
those “en
lightened”
times might
be just a little
too advanced
for the rest of
the system.
Every
time I come to
the tine for
GPA, I print
very neatly
“n/a”. Those
two little ini
tials are not
the greatest
above the system you think
your GPA doesn’t matter to us.
Whether your school calculates
GPAs doesn’t enter the picture.
No one can possibly make
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a
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conveyance of information one
can possibly provide. Not ap
plicable? Why? Questions that
come to mind first are, are you
just too lazy to go ask your
counselor and, are you so far
group of 30.” Grimsley High
School, which nabbed the first
place spot at the regional com
petition, was in the team’s
sights, but it once again claimed
the top spot at the State Com
petition, with NCSSM finishing
in 6'*’ place.
Nonetheless, the team
excelled in some events, such
as Reach for the Stars (1"), Wa
ter Quality (2"‘*), Wright Stuff
(3"*), and Road Scholars (4"').
a judgment given a few sheets
of paper. They’ve come up with
something that works, more or
less, so let them run with it. Be
sides, I seem to recall that
NCSSM received our GPAs. Do
Olympians
Also, the 6* place finish at the
state competition was also bet
ter than NCSSM’s two previous
trips to the state competition.
Seience and Math came in 7*'’ in
1999 and 10* place in 2000.
Although many are
disappointed with the finish,
many others see a lot of hope
for the Science Olympiad team.
One bright spot for the future of
the Scienee Olympiad team is
the fact that over half of the team
you think they didn’t look,
place some weight on those
numbers? I certainly have no
illusions on the matter. GPA’can '
be a very useful thing.
Does anyone honestly
think any harm would come of
adding a GPA to our transcripts?
Perhaps I’m missing something
in the reasons I’ve heard against
it. Petty competition and rank
ing? That extra degree of stress
felt, especially by first quarter
Juniors? It would make stu
dents seem bad? Please, I don’t
think so.
First, howwell one does
in classes is a poor measure of a
person. I should think most of
us know better than to put stock
in some number that quantifies
only one aspeet of the human
being. Why would we compete?
GPA is basically a numerical
version of a bunch of grades.
I have yet to hear of NCSSM
students eomparing something
so simple as the number of A’s
on a report card.
Second, no-one is going
to be more stressed about the
plunge of their GPA than they
consisted ofjuniors, who will re
turn next year, coupled with a
new junior class with even more
experience in Science Olympiad.
Many are quick to note that
since Science and Math is only
a two-year school, the team’s
dynamies ehange completely
year to year. In fact, there is al
most no way to deduce a pat
tern in NCSSM’s future perfor
mance based on the results of
last year. If anything, the
are over the beating their pride
takes when they haul home their
first “bad” report card to their
parents.
Third, this school would
never rank students. We
wouldn’t let them.
Fourth and finally, num
bers aren’t going to adversely
affect how any college looks at
NCSSM students. GPA is not
the end-all and be-all of our ex
istence or any college’s accep
tance policy. And knowing this
school, we’ll never be asked to
submit a GPA that doesn’t meet
the minimum requirements if
we’ve earned it. Coming from
this school, we more likely than
not have earned those mini-
mums.
No, the number isn’t im
portant, not in my daily life. But
when I’m filling out college ap
plications, I stress what spin is
being put on those simple let
ters “n/a.” That number sud
denly being there, instead of
being not applicable, will take
stress away, not add it. I know
that number isn’t important—
just useful.
school’s sixth place finish
should give the captains some
thing to beat for next year.
Next year’s captains
also hope to spark more inter
est in the club in order to de
velop a stronger team. Al
though some have a poor view
of the school’s showing this
year, NCSSM’s Science Qlym-
piad team seems ready to cap
ture the state championship in
2002.
    

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