Freshmen grades are losing some weight.

Freshmen grades are losing some weight.

The grades for the Class of 2026 at Prior Lake High School seem to weigh less than they used to, and that’s no joke.


The weighting of some classes, or bumping up of a grade or grade point average (GPA) in response to taking a more rigorous course, has been removed from the class of 2026’s GPA, and it is a change that will remain beyond the 2026 class. 


“What’s not going to be weighted anymore are honors and Pre-AP — those kinds of classes,” said Joey Larsen, a counselor at Prior Lake High School. 


This means that only Concurrent Enrollment (CE), Advanced Placement (AP), or any classes that could earn college credit will still receive the extra GPA bump. This excludes any Pre-AP courses. The policy was put into place because of differences in the curriculums, Larsen said. 


“Honors is, while it’s still accelerated, it’s still high school,” he said. “The idea was moving towards a more concrete divide between what gets that GPA boost and what doesn’t.” 


As for the now-unweighted Honors classes, curriculums are not changing and students should not expect an easier load. The extent of this change will only be to the GPA on the report card and transcripts. 


In reality, the removal of the weighted grading system may be small for some students. Colleges are known to “unweight” grades upon enrolling students in order to curb grade inflation, meaning the weighted grade was an unnecessary calculation for those students. 


Also, most districts within the state don’t have a weighted grade system, which could give students with weighted grades an unfair advantage.  For those schools that do weight grades, there is no standardized system for doing so.


As for students’ reaction to the policy change, registration data shows no changes in the number of students signing up for these now unweighted classes or their less rigorous counterparts.


“To me it’s about the same,” said Jared Daggit, a social studies teacher at Prior Lake High School. “That could partially be because any change takes time to communicate and filter down to the families,” he said.


However, Daggit doesn’t expect registration to change drastically at all. 


Students will take the courses they would regardless, Daggit said, and weighted grades likely didn’t play a huge role in their decision-making at all. 


With this in mind, it’s expected that honors classes will still retain a more academically inclined student base. Honors classes will still primarily cater to those students regardless of the grade boost or not.


As for whether students should take non-weighted honors courses, it ultimately depends on the student’s trajectory, Larsen said. 


“The idea is that with those honors classes no longer being weighted, taking them is the path to getting yourself prepared for those AP classes down the road,” Larsen said. Ultimately, it’s the class itself, not the GPA boost that matters. 


Students in the 2023 to 2025 classes will not be affected by this change, as the district office will continue to phase this in with the current 2026 freshman class. The old weighting policy will be completely removed from the high school by the time the class of 2030 begins their freshmen year.