Students secure dual enrollment course inclusion in GPAs

Dec 15, 2020

Old Rochester Regional High School students were able to convince the ORR School Committee to let their dual enrollment classes count toward grade point averages at a Dec. 9 meeting. 

Dual enrollment classes count toward a student’s transcript, but are take at community colleges rather than with teachers from ORR.

Before the motion passed, the courses counted neither toward students’ GPAs nor class rank.

Students, supported by Principal Michael Devoll, said that wasn’t fair when dual enrollment can be just as rigorous as an Advanced Placement course. Those classes count toward both GPAs and class rank. 

In student Ally Ward’s case, dropping an AP class in favor of dual enrollment meant a lowering of her highest possible GPA. 

“Because I dropped AP Biology and took a dual enrollment, which doesn’t affect my GPA at this point, I lost a 5.0 credit from my GPA,” Ward said. 

Previously, GPA was weighted such that normal high school classes were counted out of a 4.0 GPA, honors classes were counted out of 4.5, and AP classes were counted out of 5.0. 

So an AP class is worth 20% more than a normal class, but dual enrollment courses were not counted toward GPAs at all. 

And Ward didn’t even realize their dual enrollment classes wouldn’t count toward her GPA until after she had already signed up. 

“As far as my knowledge goes, I don’t remember it being in our handbook this year,” Ward said. 

But dual enrollment courses are recommended by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to count toward GPAs.

“I assumed that our district would follow that recommendation,” Ward said. “That’s how I made my decision.” 

Other students worried that dual enrollment being excluded from GPAs would hurt their chances of getting into their colleges of choice.

“It’s just concerning that if so many schools are allowing students to bring these into their GPA, if it’ll make OR students look like a less competitive candidate,” student Peyton Lord said. 

There was some debate over whether it would be a good idea to encourage students to take classes off-campus and away from the teachers who committee member Heather Burke said “know them best.”

But Devoll said that it should be up to the students to find what they feel are the best educational opportunities.

“Who am I to stop a kid from wanting to get a taste of college courses?” Devoll said,

Some equity issues were also brought up, as some students may not be able to afford to take dual enrollment courses, causeing a disparity between those students and the ones who can foot the cost.

But student Edward Gonet explained to the board that students are able to take their first dual enrollment class for free.

The committee voted to allow dual enrollment classes to be reflected in students’ GPAs, with one abstention from Burke.

But committee member Jim Muse said it was regrettable that the issue was even this complex.

“I feel bad that this even matters.” he said.