Mandatory GPA Drop: should PE be strictly a CP class?


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Depicted in this image are a few aspects of the mandatory PE classes that are required across all high schools in Illinois. Students pose the question whether PE should be weighted as a CP class or an honors class.

Parul Pari, Magazine Editor-In-Chief

Grade point average. Colleges look at them, employers take a look, even insurance companies offer lower rates for a better GPA. Yet, even if it drops your GPA, there is no way out of the mandatory CP PE class for the first two years of high school.

The Illinois State Board of Education requires schools to have students participate in mandatory daily physical activity. How these physical education classes should be weighted, whether as a pass/fail or CP class, is a matter of debate among high schoolers who feel that the CP PE class drops their GPA.

Hayden Shaw, junior, is one of the students that believe that there should be both an honors and CP class for the PE courses at the high school.

“I would have a CP and honors course [for PE] and the CP would be more focused on physical activity and games whereas the honors would integrate the use of instilling knowledge in the students,” Shaw said. “For example, we take tests at the end of every unit and [in an honors course], we would take quizzes throughout the unit and analyze our understanding to make the unit tests even bigger.”

The difference between the two classes, according to Shaw, would not be in the content, but rather in the depth that each course dives into regarding the topic.

“For example, in soccer right now we play by ‘PE rules’ and I think that if it were an honors course, we could learn the actual rules for the game and play an actual game of soccer as the final instead of PE soccer where you have five foot goals and it’s just kids kicking a ball at each other,” Shaw said.

Having that passion to want to learn more about the sport is what Shaw believes is a fundamental reason for separating CP PE into two different levels.

“[It’s a matter of] separating those who actually want to increase their athletic ability and gameplay from those who are just there because it’s a requirement,” Shaw said. “I know people who want to be there, play the game, and do what’s required of them but also people who are just there because the school has required them to do the class.”

Sarah Sobol, senior, believes that there is no good way of changing PE into not being a CP class because an honors class would be based on skill. As a solution to this dilemma, Sobel suggests a system similar to ones in place at Stevenson High School.

“I think we should adopt a system similar to Stevenson’s where it is a pass-fail class similar to Driver’s ED. That way you still have to take it because it is a state-mandated but by making it a pass-fail class, there’s no difference in the GPAs for students who are in sports and get PE exemptions [versus people who aren’t],” Sobol said. “They could still get their exemptions but it would neither boost their grades as it does with some people harm their GPA. It evens the playing field between those who have PE exemptions and those who don’t if it’s graded on a pass-fail system.”

Sobol acknowledges that her solution does not come without problems, yet she believes there is still an efficient way to resolve this conflict.

“I feel that there are ways around [kids not participating in the class like] to modify the grading system so that you don’t get three points for putting on your PE clothes and one point for walking during class which would guarantee you a C in the class. They could do things to the grading system to require the students to have some level of participation to have that pass in the class,” Sobol said. “Kids already don’t participate in PE so the kids who get D’s in those PE classes would end up failing either way if it’s the letter grade system or pass grade system. I definitely think that the school could make ways to nullify the issues with the pass-fail system by modifying the grading system.”