The ups and downs of CESJDS’ GPA system

Matthew Rabinowitz, Reporter

As a new student at CESJDS with little prior knowledge of Hebrew, I have to take ECP level Judaic classes because many require higher levels of Hebrew. All academic classes at JDS, including Judaics classes, are graded on a four-point GPA scale for the ECP level and five-point scale for the advanced level, so students who choose to take advanced classes have a higher weighted GPA than other students. Because of this, I disliked that Judaic classes were factored into students’ GPAs.

For most of the year, I had believed that Judaics classes should not be factored into students’ GPAs, as I did not see their educational value because I’m not that religious. However, after speaking with Director of College Guidance Sue Rexford to learn more about how Jewish text, Jewish history and Hebrew classes affect our GPAs, I now understand that they must be counted just like the core classes.

Like core classes, Jewish text classes challenge me to analyze and understand advanced materials. In my Leadership in Biblical Literature class, I learn to examine Samuel II like I analyze primary sources for World History I. In Ethical Dilemmas, I am challenged to consider my values and moral and reflect them in writing.

Jewish history classes, meanwhile, are often just as demanding as normal history classes and are graded on similar standards, according to Rexford. In college transcripts, colleges are informed that Jewish text classes “have strong academic rigor.”

Therefore, many colleges count them as normal history classes when viewing transcripts and GPAs. Similarly, Hebrew classes are just like other foreign language classes that are considered essential to colleges and definitely should be calculated into our GPA. After all, JDS is a Jewish day school that values its Judaics just as much as its core classes. While I now see the importance of factoring Jewish classes into GPAs, the GPA system is not foolproof.

Many Judaics classes, as well as “academic” electives such as Journalism and 3D Design and Printing, do not offer advanced levels. Therefore, students sometimes choose to take advanced classes in favor of ones they would enjoy more. For example, when selecting Judaic classes for next year, I chose Tanakh Seminar: Book of Kings ADV instead of ECP level Biblical Themes in World Literature, which I would prefer to take, because I wanted the boost in my GPA.

A situation like this could apply to electives as well. Students may have wanted to take Journalism but instead took Python I ADV, for example, in order to make their weighted GPA higher.

Judaic classes at JDS should be factored into our GPAs, but in order to encourage students to take electives they desire, Powerschool should list our unweighted GPAs on a four-point scale rather than weighted ones on a five-point scale.

Although they will likely bring down my weighted GPA until I graduate, Judaics classes deserve to keep being counted in JDS’ GPA calculations, contrary to what many students believe. They are often just as demanding as core classes such as English and History, and they teach the same analytical skills. Even so, an unweighted GPA would solve many issues that students face.