American Classics H refused UC honors weighting for 2011-2012

    Principal Phil Winston discusses the retroactive un-weighting of American Classics H during a press conference in the SSRC. Many TAs were on hand to hear the news and learn how it will affect their students. Photo by Grant Raffel.

    Students who took American Classics H during the 2011-2012 school year will not receive honors weighting for the course from the University of California, according to Palo Alto High School Principal Phil Winston.

    In an email sent to last year’s American Classics students released by Winston moments ago, Winston revealed that this decision was reached after months of discussion between the school and the University of California Office of the President. Winston informed the teacher advisers and guidance counselors of this change during a lunch meeting open to the press today in the Social Studies Resource Center.

    “They [UCOP] cite two main factors [in the decision]: No. 1, that at the time, Paly had too many honors courses that were weighted,” Winston said. “And then No. 2, some technical issues in the way that we applied for that course.”

    Winston explained that the UCs will still consider American Classics H as an “honors class.” However, since there will be no honors weighting, which constitutes extra points for the weighted GPAs (according to the UC Berkeley guide on GPA calculations), students’ GPAs may be lowered.

    Winston indicated that Monica Lin, associate director of admissions at the Office of the President, said that a student’s GPA would only be affected by, at most, 0.01 to 0.03 points.

    “That is almost irrelevant in the big picture,” Winston said.

    “It’s not a life altering moment for folks, at least it shouldn’t be,” he added.

    Although Winston said 0.01 to 0.03 in the GPA will not make a large difference for most, students of the Class of 2013 who are on the cusp of a 3.0 GPA, which is the minimum GPA requirement for consideration by the UC system, may be negatively impacted.

    “Dr. Lin has assured me that since the UC’s are reviewing applications and students holistically now, there will not be any negative impact to students applying to the system at large,” Winston wrote in the email. “For students who are close to the minimum eligibility requirement it may have an impact if they drop below the threshold.”

    Winston added that the decision is not likely to change.

    “She [Lin] is as flexible as a brick,” Winston said.

    A full transcript of Winston’s email to 2011-2012 American Classics H students is below.

    Dear ________,

    You took American Classics H last school year, 2011-2012, and we have some information to share with you. Last year, we applied for the class to be Honors, with weighted credit. We learned earlier this week that it will not receive the weighted credit option. 

    We have been working, and lobbying on your behalf, with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) for several months regarding the American Classics H course taught at Palo Alto High School last year. I have spoken directly with Dr. Monica Lin, Associate Director of Admissions at the Office of the President, to try to resolve the issue but the American Classics H course will not receive weighted credit from the University of California for the 2011-2012 school year.  We have gone back and forth with the UC staff and they are firm in their decision.  The UCOP’s rationale is that we had too many courses with honors credit at that time and cite some technical issues in our submission of the course, around which our discussions have been centered.

    As your Principal, I am not interested in blaming anyone for this situation and have done everything possible to convince the UC System that the class should receive a weighted grade. The good news is that the class is still considered an honors course by the University of California even without the weighting of the grade.  Dr. Lin has assured me that since the UC’s are reviewing applications and students holistically now, there will not be any negative impact to students applying to the system at large.  For students who are close to the minimum eligibility requirement it may have an impact if they drop below the threshold.  Furthermore, it will not affect any applications to private and out-of-state colleges because we only report unweighted GPA’s and then the colleges calculate GPA’s based on their own criteria. 

    You might feel the need to contact the University of California President’s Office but I strongly encourage you not to.  We have done everything possible to ameliorate this unfortunate situation and contacting them will not change anything (they have made that crystal clear). 

    If you have specific questions, please see your TA or the College and Career staff.

    Phil Winston, Principal

    More information and reaction to come.

    College Counselor Sandra Cernobori explains to TAs how the change may or may not affect current seniors. There was some confusion as to how the UCs will review applications and how many students this change will impact. Photo by Grant Raffel.


    • Displeased Parent and Alumni

      I understand that the students and faculty are displeased with this ruling, but to call someone “as flexible as a brick” publicly is not only wrong, it is offensive. I expected better from my former newspaper and staff.

    • palyvoice

      Thank you for your comment. However, those are the words of Principal Winston. We simply quoted what he said. We neither agree nor disagree whether or not this is appropriate. We are just reporting the news!

    • Anonymous

      Also, for those present at the meeting, Mr. Winston was specifically addressing her stance on this issue.

    • palyjunior

      What is the future focus of this article? As a junior, I am interested in knowing whether this course will be weighted for 1012-2013, since I am signed up to take it second semester.

    • senior

      This is outrageous. One of the reasons why the class was so difficult was that the teacher explicitly based assignments, course load, and GRADING on the fact that this was an honors course. The amount of time and energy spent into this class last year, which was thought to be fine because–after all–it was honors, can’t be compensated.