Keeping Track Of High School

I try to be an involved parent, I really do. It’s hard, though, when you spend most of your time trapped behind a little desk in a cluttered little office, doing things that have nothing to do with your kids. Fortunately, however, I can at least keep tabs on their schoolwork, even while sitting at my desk. Our school district has an online system where parents can view their student’s grades, assignments, and attendance.

With my older two in high school, I want to make sure they are taking the classes they need, not only to graduate, but to get accepted to the colleges of their choice. Further, as part of my efforts to keep their resumes up-to-date, I want to be able to calculate their grade point average. While it might seem like a simple matter of counting up their As, Bs, and so on, giving each a value, and dividing by the number of grades counted, it is actually more complicated than that.

The most common, and perhaps most important, grade point average is the weighted, capped, 9-10 A-G GPA, often referred to as the UC GPA because it is the number that the University of California uses during the admissions process. This is calculated by adding the values of the semester grades of all courses that fall under one of the A-G categories taken from the summer before 10th grade through the summer after 11th grade, adding 1 point for each semester of AP classes passed with a C or better (up to a maximum of 8 points) and dividing by the number of semester grades. Yes, that’s a mouthful.

It’s okay to compute that GPA once or twice by hand, but any more than that and it starts to get really annoying. And what if you’d like to know your student’s overall GPA, either weighted or not? Or perhaps the GPA used by the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley (high on my son’s list) which is basically the UC GPA without the cap on AP points? Having grown up doing ten-key-touch almost before I could walk, I turned to something that I use all together more often than I’d care to admit and which is perfect for this situation: the spreadsheet.

Mind you, when I was growing up, a spreadsheet was paper and nothing more — an oversized sheet of paper with columns and rows. In my particular case the individual cells of spreadsheets were populated with numbers scrawled in my father’s writing and it was my job to add up all the columns and rows and make sure that my totals matched my dad’s. If they didn’t someone made a mistake somewhere.

Today, however, spreadsheets have come a long way. Cells can contain complex formulas and compute answers automatically. If a single number changes, there is no more erasing and recalculating the totals for each affected row and column. So, I built a spreadsheet. I enter my kids’ high school classes, indicate the A-G Category and if it’s an AP course, and mark down the letter grade they received in the class. From there, the spreadsheet does its magic, translating letter grades into grade points, calculating several different GPAs, and tracking progress towards meeting the A-G requirements.

At a glance, I can see that my oldest’s GPA is very good and that he has met all of the A-G Requirements, even though he hasn’t completed the recommendation number of years for one category. And while the list of courses he has taken in high school is available online, it is nice to be able to see it in one place.

Now, I’m not the only one with a high school student, so this spreadsheet might just be of interest to other parents who want to keep tabs on how their students are doing. So, you can download a .zip file with the spreadsheet and some documentation. The workbook contains two sheets — a blank spreadsheet for your use and one populated with sample data.

Update: There were a couple of bugs in the first version that was available for download. There is a new version of the spreadsheet available to download (as of 10/02/2019) that fixes these problems.

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