page 2 features 3^1200^ 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 ■ laeSaispifcj.: '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 v-, ^2 Ma 4.. miMmm.—tuition . . tfor .. ' J a report card c o s' I 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.