FCPS Grading Policy Changes: Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Fairfax County Public Schools changing its grading scale and adding weights to AP, IB, and selected dual enrollment and honors courses?

In 2008, a parent group raised concerns about whether FCPS methods of computing grades and applying weights for advanced courses are adversely affecting FCPS applicants for college admissions, honors program placements, and merit-based scholarship awards. Fairfax County Public Schools collaborated with the parent group to conduct a join investigation into the issue. On January 2, 2009, the FCPS Grade Policy Report was issued.  The report summarizes facts surrounding colleges’ and universities’ consideration of student applications. The intent of the report was to provide a basis for the School Board’s review of current grading procedures and governing regulations.  Some key points of the report include:

1. GPAs computed on 10-point scales are higher than those of FCPS graduates, especially when greater weights are applied to advanced courses.
2. Changing scales could increase GPAs for more students across a range of GPAs.
3. Changing the weights will increase GPAs for students who complete more honors and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB) courses.
4. Grades in core courses, rigor of curriculum, number of advanced courses, SAT/ACT scores, and weighted GPA are identified as the most important factors in college admissions.
5. Standardized test scores and weighted GPAs are the two most important considerations in merit-based scholarship awards and honors program placements.
6. The weights most commonly seen by admissions officers are 0.5 points for honors and 1.0 points for AP/IB courses.

Using the report and recommendations by the Superintendent, the School Board voted to make changes to both the weights and grading scale.

What kind of grading scale did the School Board pass on May 7, 2009:

The Fairfax County School Board approved a modified ten-point scale, complete with pluses and minuses. The new scale will be effective at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.

New FCPS Grading Scale (effective beginning of 2009-10 school year)

  • A (93-100) = 4.0
  • A- (90-92) = 3.7
  • B+ (87-89) = 3.3
  • B (83-86) = 3.0
  • B- (80-82) = 2.7
  • C+ (77-79) = 2.3
  • C (73-76) = 2.0
  • C- (70-72) = 1.7
  • D+ (67-69) = 1.3
  • D (64-66) = 1.0
  • F (below 64) = 0.0

How often are GPA’s recalculated?

Typically, a high school student’s cumulative GPA is recalculated at the end of every school year.  Seniors’ GPAs are also recalculated midway through their senior year, resulting in the 7th semester transcript.  So, if a student is a junior and is midway through the school year, the cumulative GPA appearing on his or her transcript reflects grades only through the end of sophomore year. 

How can parents view their child’s GPA?

Parents of high school students can view their child’s GPA online through Family Connection, which is available on the FCPS 24/7 Learning portal.  All high school GPA’s have been updated with an extra weight for AP, IB and selected dual enrollment courses. A student can also view his or her GPA online on Family Connection through FCPS 24/7 Learning, commonly known as Blackboard.  The GPA is listed in the student’s profile.

To access FCPS 24/7 Learning and Family Connection:
http://fcps.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp

Have the transcripts of underclass students who have taken an AP, IB or selected dual enrollment course been updated to reflect the additional weight?

Yes, transcripts of all applicable students (seniors and underclass) were updated in February 2009 to reflect the additional weight.  If an underclass student completed an AP, IB or selected dual enrollment class in previous years, the cumulative GPA for 2008 has been adjusted to reflect the additional weight.  Underclass students who are currently taking an AP, IB or selected dual enrollment course will not see the total weight added to their GPA until they complete the course. 

My child is a senior and applied to college before the FCPS decision was made to add the extra weight for AP, IB and selected dual enrollment courses.  How will the colleges know that the grading policy changed?

Colleges were notified about the grading policy change and adjusted transcripts. Fairfax County Public Schools sent 7th Semester transcripts to all colleges to which students applied in early February 2009.  Included in the transcript was the following note: On January 22, 2009 the FCPS School Board approved increasing the grade point weight from 0.5 to 1.0 for Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and selected dual enrollment courses, with the new weights retroactive for all courses on current students’ transcripts effective January 2009.  The cumulative weighted GPA listed above reflects this change to a 1.0 weight for these courses.  No letter grades on student transcripts have changed, only the weights.  

What about semester-long AP or advanced-level courses?

If a current student has a semester-long AP course or advanced level course on his or her transcript, they received an additional 0.25 weight for a total of 0.50 weight.  These courses fall under that category:

  • Multivariable Calculus
  • Differential Equations
  • Complex Analysis
  • Computer Systems
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Computer Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence 1&2
  • Matrix Algebra
  • Intro to Organic Chemistry

When will students receive the 0.50 weight for honors courses?

Beginning in the 2009-10 school year, students who have an honors course on their transcript will receive an 0.50 weight added to their GPA calculation.

My child took an honors course in the 2008-09 school year.  Will he get the 0.50 weight added to his transcript retroactively?

Yes.

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Last Updated

December 12, 2011