College Core FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the College Core?
The College Core is a Mesa Public School District’s class ranking system that looks at 17 core courses.

Why is the College Core important?
The College Core is a strong determining factor for decisions regarding students for many colleges, universities, and scholarships.

When should I start planning for college?
It is never too early to start planning for college. College preparatory discussions and activities take place for children during elementary school years and sometimes earlier.  It is usually during the junior high/middle school years that many students begin exploring specific colleges (or other post secondary options), qualifications and requirements, and work toward related goals.  Students typically start taking high school courses in their 9th grade year (with some starting earlier).  High school courses make up the schedule of courses, grades, GPA, and College Core rank that are considered for admission to colleges or other post-secondary institutions or for scholarships and other awards and recognition of achievement.

How do I determine my College Core?
College Core calculations are based on grade level curriculum benchmarks for grades 10 through 12.  These grade level benchmarks are held constant for 1st and 2nd semesters for each year.  

  • By the end of 10th grade, a student is expected to complete 10 (or 20 semester grades) of the 17 College Core courses.  Therefore, 20 will be used as the divisor.  10th grade credits include: 2 English, 2 Math, 2 Science (Laboratory), 1 Social Studies, 2 World Language and 1 Fine Arts.
  • By the end of 11th grade, a student is expected to have completed 14 (or 28 semester grades) of the 17 College Core courses.  Therefore, 28 will be used as the divisor.  11th grade credits include an additional: 1 English, 1 Math, 1 Science (Laboratory) and 1 Social Studies. 
  • By the end of 12th grade, a student is expected to have completed 17 (or 34 semester grades) of the 17 College Core classes.  Therefore, 34  will be used as the divisor.  The final 3 College Core classes include: 1 English, 1 Math and 1 Social Studies(Economics/History). 

What is the difference between College Core and Grade Point Average (GPA)?
College Core is a ranking system that measures students' academic performance in core high school courses.   Students are ranked in comparison to other students in their class.  The core classes include 4 English (Composition or Literature) credits, 4 Math credits, 3 Laboratory Science credits, 3 Social Science credits, 2 World Language credits, and 1 Fine Arts credit. This totals 17 credits/34 semesters at the time of high school graduation.   For Students who exceed the number of credits required, the College Core will automatically be calculated based on their highest grade points. 

GPA is the average of grades for all classes taken by a student.  This is calculated by totaling total grade points and dividing that by the total number of classes taken. There is greater potential for a higher GPA if a student’s GPA contains weighted courses.

What are weighted courses?
Weighted courses are courses that have been identified by the district as having a high level of academic rigor and therefore are graded on a 5 point scale instead of a 4 point scale (for non-weighted courses).  An “A” in a weighted course will yield 5 grade points, a “B” will yield 4 grade points, and a “C” will yield 3 grade points, etc. 

Will my College Core appear on my grade reports? 
Yes. Your College Core will appear on grade reports after the first semeseter of your 10th grade year, and every semester thereafter.  

What do colleges and universities use for admission criteria?
College Core or related class ranking is used for many colleges and universities as the strongest criterion for admission.  Other factors considered for admission often include, but are not limited to, GPA, ACT and SAT scores, strength of curriculum, extracurricular activities, personal attributes and talents.