attend UCLA in the fall.
"I felt swamped at times," said Goss, 18. "I didn't feel that I
had time to do much else, short of being a mindless zombie floating
around from class to class. As long as you challenge yourself in some
way, that's great, but if you want that great position at Harvard,
you might have to be a crazy, valedictorian kind of person."
Advanced placement classes carry more weight on a 4.0 grading
scale. They provide high school students who pass the course tests
with college credit and typically position students like Goss to get
accepted into better colleges and universities.
Weighted grades allow students to obtain GPAs well above 4.0,
which means seniors are graduating with 4.7 GPAs or higher. Local
students, parents and educators say the rise of weighted grades has
changed education, and changed it for the better.
AP courses are taught at a faster pace than regular high school
courses and are considered by faculty to be rigorous because they
hold students who take the courses to college-level standards.
High schools in Burbank, Glendale and La Canada Flintridge make AP
classes available to all students who meet certain prerequisites and
have proved they can handle the course load. Districts have continued
to offer more AP and honors classes to students in the past 20 years,
in major subjects like English, math, science and social sciences.
Advanced classes in the arts are now being offered at some local
"AP classes made [school] more interesting for me," Goss said. "I
hated school my first two years, but then I tried to take classes I
was interested in, like chemistry, and I'm glad I did it."
THE VALEDICTORIAN SELECTION
The process by which local valedictorians are selected varies by
school, but weighted GPAs play a key role in who is selected.
Burbank and Glendale high schools select their top students based
on who has the highest GPA. Point values are assigned to AP and
honors classes depending on difficulty, so an "A" grade in an AP
course would be worth more than an "A" grade in a regular course.
In some cases, difficulty of classes, behavior and attendance are