Is the ‘Weight’ Finally Over?

Wildcat Opinion Editor Kenneth Kim makes a case for Honors Literature and Composition 2 to receive the Honors weight it deserves.

Attention, Class of 2022, your prayers have been answered: The process to weight Honors Literature and Composition 2 (HLC2) has begun, which means, for future sophomore classes, long-overdue GPA bumps.

According to Joy Cordia, assistant principal, BOHS follows guidelines set by the University of California (UC) system that dictate what is, and what isn’t, an “honors” class. On BOHS transcripts, honors classes are noted with a “+”, but HLC2 notes a “p” for “College Prep” on transcripts. Without the “+,” colleges do not consider the class a weighted honors course.

Which sections earn the GPA boost is both a “local decision,” according to Cordia, and the UCs determining if the class is rigorous enough to be weighted.

Becky Marchant, counselor, explained that the UCs will ultimately have to consider whether or not HLC2 fits their standards for an honors English course. “We have to show that there is a significant difference between the regular class and the honors class,” Marchant said.

Paperwork to achieve the honors designation has been provided to the English department. The next steps for Jonathan Quiming, HLC2 teacher, and Laurel Batchelor, English Department Chair:

  1. Submit the paperwork necessary for the UCs to consider HLC2 weighted between Feb. 1 and May 31.
  2. If the UCs reject the paperwork, BOHS may resubmit it by July 31.
  3. If the UCs reject the paperwork a second time, submit it a third time by Sep. 15.

If approved, HLC2 will be weighted by the start of the 2019-20 school year, with the class of 2023 being the first class to benefit from the bump.

The application’s approval should be a no-brainer. To Quiming (and to many students who have graduated from his challenging class) there is a “significant difference” between HLC2 and College Prep. In fact, the course is so rigorous that many sophomores opt not to take it. In 2017, there were five sections of HLC2, but just two in 2019. And from 2017 to 2018, four sections worth of Honors Literature Composition 1 students chose to take the easier College Prep avenue, sacrificing the “honors” label on their transcripts for an easier “A” in the non-Honors course. (Students then opt back into Honors. AP Language has five sections and more AP exam-takers than any other subject. Even AP Literature, the most challenging English course, has three classes, one more than HLC2.)

“I think the students started to figure out this problem, asking themselves, ‘Why would I take this class if it won’t give me credits if I could just take a College prep class, get an easy A, and move on?’ [Students] view these classes as a means to the end,” said Quiming.

Batchelor agreed: “It’s been a discouraging trend that students don’t want to step up and take more rigorous classes. Weighting Lit Comp 2 Honors [is] a really good decision. I would love to see that happen.”

Although Honors Literature and Composition 2 (HLC2) is one of the most challenging sophomore classes at BOHS due to the amount of reading and writing and the teacher’s high expectations, students walk away without one of the biggest rewards for passing a weighted honors class: a GPA boost.

Quiming and Batchelor aren’t the only ones advocating for a weighted HLC2 class. A poll conducted by the Wildcat of BOHS students revealed a whopping 98.66% who believe HLC2 should be weighted. Luckily for this year’s freshman, this opportunity may soon exist.

But why are students so hungry for the slight bump in GPA? Students are awarded two benefits from taking an honors class: the learning that comes with taking the challenging course, and a GPA boost. Yes, students reap rewards from the increased rigor, but in order to apply this learning in the country’s top colleges, students need the extra grade points to be more desirable applicants, both for admissions and for scholarships.

These extra points can go a long way: While BOHS’s highest GPA last year was 4.8182, Troy High School’s was a 4.88. One honors class may not be the only reason for the difference, but weighing HLC2 would be an important step to closing the gap between BOHS’s top students and those high-achieving students at nearby schools like Sunny Hills, Troy, and Diamond Bar.

Closing this gap is especially important at a time when it’s getting increasingly harder to get into California’s top, and most popular, schools. San Diego State, for example, had 96,000 applicants for the 2018-2019 school year, up from 84,000 in 2015-2016, according to SDSU Newscenter. For BOHS, a school that sent 49% of its seniors to either UCs or CSUs in 2018, this recent effort to weight HLC2 is a welcome (and long overdue) one.

“It’s refreshing to see BOHS make a change that both the faculty and students have been wishing for,” David Lee, sophomore, said. “Hopefully, in the future, we can see more things done for BOHS students to better help their future.”

BOHS’s mission is to provide academic pathways to success, which it achieves with programs such as GITA, AVID, BITA, Gateway, a wide array of Advanced Placement classes, skilled teachers, and a counseling staff highly motivated to get students into the best possible schools. A weighted HLC2 widens that pathway for BOHS’s student body and should result in a pool of more competitive applicants. A weighted GPA for HLC2 also will also give BOHS a leg up on its neighbors — only Troy currently weighs HLC2.

But this isn’t the end. With this victory, BOHS can hopefully look forward to other changes in the upcoming years. Imagine a school where freshman are allowed to take AP classes, where Pre-Calculus Honors will also be weighted, where classes such as AP Psychology and AP Human Geography exist. This is a vision of what BOHS could be, and if the weighting of HLC2 is any indication, there’s potential for this vision to become a reality.

Students and faculty alike have expressed a desire for HLC2 to be weighted, a desire that has been met with action by the administration and English Department.