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Homeschooling Thru High School
You can Before H.S. During H.S. After H.S. Resources FAQs Blog

Carol Becker

Diane Kummer
Diane Kummer

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

We hope to meet you
in person!

May 21, 2016: Christian Home Educators of West Virginia (CHEWV)—Clarksburg, WV (Getting Started High School Workshops with Carol)

June 16-18, 2016: Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC)—Denver, CO (Diane)

July 15-16, 2016: Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE)—Phoenix, AZ (Carol)

Save the Date! August 6, 2016: HSLDA You Can Homeschool Symposium—Purcellville, VA (Carol and Diane)

January 28, 2017: Home Educators of Grove—Richmond, VA (Diane)

Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? Purchase a recording of HSLDA’s High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality event and watch sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and receiving encouragement for the high school years!

“Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade.” Learn more >>

Let’s Calculate a Grade Point Average

Dear Friends, May 5, 2016

As the school year draws to a close, we encourage you to remember that your students have made progress and accomplished much during the school year. It helps to focus on what has been done rather than what has been left undone.

What one memory with your teen from this past year gives you a sense of accomplishment? Perhaps it was a memorable book read together, a math problem finally figured out together, a science experiment that surprisingly worked, or another new skill your teen mastered, so treasure these successes.

Closing out another school year also gives you the opportunity to update your records such as course descriptions, the extracurricular activities sheet, and the high school transcript. When updating the transcript with the current year’s courses, final grades, and credits, you’ll want to calculate a grade point average (GPA). What is a GPA and how is it calculated?

Defining our terms

A GPA is a numerical value that provides an assessment of your teen’s academic skills. It takes into account the final grade of each course as well as the credit earned in the course. A high GPA indicates that the student has done very well in completed courses.

It is also a means for quickly comparing students’ overall academic strengths. College admissions officers commonly use it as one factor when evaluating applicants. GPA can factor into scholarship eligibility requirements, can be used as a condition for participation in school sports (for those states with equal access laws), or can qualify students for certain financial aid grants. Depending on your car insurance provider, a high GPA may even qualify for a good student driver discount!

High school transcripts include a yearly GPA (grades 9—12) as well as a cumulative GPA. As the name implies, a yearly GPA takes into account the final grades and credit earned during a single year of high school. A cumulative GPA considers all final grades and credits earned to date.

First things first

Before calculating a GPA, parents must first compute a final grade and determine the appropriate high school credit for each course. If your teen is enrolled in a co-op or online course, be sure to ascertain if the teacher intends to evaluate your teen for a final letter grade in the course. There’s nothing worse than assuming that an outside teacher is evaluating your teen’s work only to find out at the end of the year that it is your responsibility to assign a grade!

For any outside course, including dual enrollment college courses, the final letter grade given by an outside instructor should be the grade you show on the high school transcript.

Ready to calculate the GPA

Once you’ve assigned final grades and determined credit for each course in a given year, you can then calculate the yearly GPA. The first step is to convert each letter grade to letter points. For standard high school courses, this is the typical conversion chart:

A+ = 4.3B+ = 3.3C+ = 2.3D+ = 1.3 
A = 4.0B = 3.0C = 2.0D = 1.0F = 0
A- = 3.7B- = 2.7C- = 1.7D- = 0.7 

The next step is to multiply the letter points by the credit the course earned. This results in quality points. For example:

CourseLetter gradeLetter pointsCreditQuality Points
Algebra 1A414   (4 x 1)
English 9B313   (3 X 1)
Phys ScienceB-2.712.7   (2.7 X 1)
GeographyA414   (4 X 1)
Spanish 1C212   (2 X 1)
Phys EdA4½2   (4 X ½)
ArtB3½1.5   (3 X ½)  

For each school year, calculate the quality points for each course and then add all quality points. Next, divide total quality points by total credits, and the result is the GPA. In the example above, 19.2 quality points divided by 6 credits yields a GPA of 3.20. GPAs are generally shown on the transcript rounded to two decimal figures.

The 9th grade cumulative GPA is the same as the yearly GPA. To calculate the 10th grade cumulative GPA, add total quality points for both 9th and 10th grades, and then divide by total credits for 9th and 10th grades. For the cumulative GPA through the end of the 11th grade year, add total quality points for 9th, 10th, and 11th grades, and divide by total credits (9th + 10th + 11th grades). Likewise, for cumulative GPA through the end of the 12th grade year, add total quality points (9th + 10th + 11th + 12th grades) and divide by total credits (9th + 10th + 11th + 12th grades).

Special considerations affecting the GPA

Some students may take honors or AP® courses that require a higher quality and greater quantity of work than a typical high school course. Because more is expected of the student, the letter points given to the grades earned in these courses receive more “weight” and produce a “weighted” GPA.

Honors courses are typically bumped 0.5 points so that an A in an honors course receives 4.5 points, a B receives 3.5 points, a C receives 2.5 points, and so on when you calculate the GPA.

In the same manner, because AP® courses have been approved by the College Board, an A in an AP® course receives 5 points, a B receives 4 points, a C receives 3 points, and so on when you assign letter points and calculate the GPA. Remember that only courses whose syllabi have been approved by the College Board’s AP® Audit review process may be designated as an AP® course on the transcript and may be weighted by these additional letter points when you calculate the GPA. See this link for more info on the College Board’s AP® Audit review process.

Some parents choose to give students a pass or fail grade instead of a letter grade in some courses. This is up to the parent; however, keep in mind that a pass grade is not included in the GPA calculations; whereas, a fail grade adversely affects the GPA. Here’s an example for a pass grade. The letter points are “0” and the quality points are “0.” When calculating the GPA, you would add all quality points for the year and then divide by total credits minus the credit given to the pass course. A pass grade neither helps nor hurts the GPA.

However, if a student earns a fail in a course, the fail earns “0” letter points and the quality points for the course are “0.” When you calculate the GPA in this case, you add all quality points for the year, then divide by total credits including the failed credit. This failed credit negatively impacts the GPA.

We suggest using pass/fail grades sparingly, if at all.

Wrapping it up

Calculating a GPA is not difficult, but it is easy to make a mistake. Ask someone to verify your GPA calculations. If you are a member of HSLDA, we would be happy to calculate your student’s GPA for you, or verify your calculations. For your convenience, this chart provides a good summary of GPA calculations.

We hope we’ve taken some of the mystery and intimidation out of GPA calculations! Use one of the free blank transcript templates and use the directions in this newsletter to crank out your own GPA.

Join us next month as we offer encouragement to keep on going straight through to your teen’s high school graduation with confidence and enthusiasm!

As we celebrate Memorial Day at the end of this month, we thank all of our military families for the sacrifices you make each and every day to protect our freedoms. You have our sincere appreciation.

Cherishing our freedoms,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants