ECM. GPA. Not Okay.

A persistent issue that has remained at Lake Shore High School is the unfair handling of grade point averages (GPA). Early College of Macomb (ECM) students are being cast aside when it comes to boosting GPA. 

Advanced Placement courses (AP) are modeled after college classes. Any student who takes these courses and does well will not only receive college credit, but they will also receive an extra GPA boost. With these courses being shaped after college classes, you would expect students taking actual college classes to get an extra GPA point as well. Nevertheless, ECM students do not receive this extra GPA point. The Board of Education decides whether or not a class is deserving of an additional GPA point, and they decided Macomb Community College classes are not worthy to receive an added GPA point.

Janelle Bross, the Principal of Lake Shore High School, explains why ECM students do not get a raised GPA, “Historically, ECM courses have not been granted a bonus GPA point because Lake Shore has no information or guarantee of the rigor involved in the curriculum. There are math classes offered at Macomb that are less rigorous than courses offered here. There are seminars and other non-academic courses that may not be as rigorous as other high school classes. As for AP courses, they have certain standards that must be met in order to be AP courses.  We know what they will cover and how much work will be done to cover it. And while many college courses are very rigorous, Lake Shore doesn’t have the same guarantee that we have with AP courses.”

While Lake Shore may have no information or guarantee the rigor involved in the curriculum of a Macomb Community College course, an obvious factor is being ignored, the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA). The MTA was created to easily transfer general education requirements. Therefore, almost every course a student following the MTA is taking mimics all general studies classes someone would take their first two years at a university. Every ECM student, besides rare ones in specialty programs such as an IT program, is required to follow the MTA. Moreover, to follow the MTA a student must receive a transferable grade. The MTA can transfer to practically every college in Michigan. Even major colleges in Michigan, such as the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Michigan Technological University, accept the MTA. Taking a visit to their websites, a tool is available to show each class on the MTA and the equivalent class at that university. 

AP courses are not guaranteed to even transfer to universities. Students must get the score that their desired college accepts.  

Due to the strict following of the MTA, the argument that certain courses are easier at Macomb Community College is flawed. The math classes that are easier to take at Macomb Community College rather than Lake Shore are any classes under Math 1000. Therefore, the ECM program no longer allows students to take any math under Math 1000. If a student is required to take that class because they placed into it, they must take it on their own time with their own money. Math 1000 does not even contribute to the MTA, instead it is a prerequisite course for almost every math course higher than Math 1000. To follow the MTA, the student has to take any class higher than Math 1000, which are math classes such as statistics, accelerated precalculus, and calculus. 

All other courses that are not directly on the MTA, such as seminar (a class ECM students are required to take) and gym (which is rarely taken by ECM students and is regularly only taken if they need the credit at Lake Shore) could simply be exempt from the additional GPA boost. It would not be complicated to reference the MTA, notice the course is not one of its requirements, and have the credit transfer to Lake Shore without the additional GPA point. It would not be any different from the system Lake Shore has now to transfer credits, except for the one additional step of referencing the MTA.

The solution to measure the rigor of a Macomb Community College course? Look at the MTA. If the University of Michigan, ranked the third best public school in the nation, acknowledges the classes on the MTA as rigorous without having to take an AP test, then the classes on the MTA should be rigorous enough for Lake Shore High School to give an extra GPA point to.