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Topics Homepage> Employers should require a 2.0 GPA for hiring teen workers.

Employers should require a 2.0 GPA for hiring teen workers.

PRO (6 assertions)


Employers: Employers at jobs that you need a work permit for as a teenager; like a fast food job, service jobs, and manufacturing jobs.

Should require: as in what we should do to promote education in America. This debate will be focused on promoting education and benefiting the teenagers of America

Teens: 15-18 year-old applicants

2.0 GPA: As in a 2.0 GPA in only the subjects that the employer deems relevant (minimum of 2) Why? Because that’s the average grade. It’s a “C”. Many other institutions also use it as the cut-off bar, illustrating the fact that it is an already well-established spot to place the minimum requirement. A 2.0 GPA is the minimum requirement for an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree. Other institutes that use 2.0 GPA as their minimum GPA requirement include the NCAA, the High School Athletic Association, and other college sports and clubs.

1. Assertion: Employers should not consider job applicants who haven’t done a satisfactory job in their primary job, which is going to school.

Reasoning: That’s right – all teenagers already have a job: going to school.  It is a job mandated by the laws of all 50 states.  In California, the parents or legal guardian of students between the ages of 6 and 18 are responsible for seeing to it that their students attend school until the student attains the age of 18 or graduates from high school.  Our society places such a high priority on graduation from high school, that laws actually make it mandatory.

Evidence: California Compulsory School Attendance Law.

2. Assertion: GPA requirements benefit the employers.

Reasoning: How does this benefit the employer?  In many ways: (1) it gives employers an objective tool to fairly evaluate all teen candidates, much like colleges use SAT scores, (2) numerous studies have confirmed that the GPA is a strong indicator of school attendance, thus, employers who hire a student with a 2.0 or higher GPA know that the employee is likely to be reliable, (3) the 2.0 GPA is a “C” average, which gives employers the knowledge that the student possesses at least an average understanding of academic topics that will affect their job performance, like math, reading and writing, (4) the employer can feel good about helping parents and society to encourage teens to stay in school (numerous studies have concluded that graduating from high school is a major indicator of a student’s future earnings and life success). 

Evidence: A study conducted in 2002 called “The Correlation Between Attendance and Achievement at Garey High School”; Also a study by the University of Connecticut in 2009 found a 75% correlation between attendance and GPA meaning that those students who have low numbers of absences tend to have a higher G.P.A. Also a University of Pennsylvania study on Philadelphia School District from 1994 through 2001 found similar results. 


3. Assertion: GPA requirements motivate teens to do better at school.

Reasoning: Many school athletic programs have had these minimum GPA requirements for years and have found that students rise to meet the minimum.  

Evidence: In schools that had strong academic requirements, athletic directors reported students adjusted to the requirements once they were set in place. In a study by the U.S. Sports Academy, one athletic director in New Mexico stated that kids know what the minimum grade point average is to be eligible so they will do what is required. In fact, he even thought that they could raise the grade point to 2.5 and the student-athletes would adjust in a matter of time. The Los Angles Unified School District instituted a rule that stated, "To be eligible for participation in extracurricular activities students must maintain a C average in four subjects and have no failures" (Eitzen & Sage, 1989). In 1984 the state of Texas introduced a "No Pass No Play" rule that stated that athletes could not have any failing grades if they were to participate in a sporting activity (Richards, 1987). Initially, a large group of students became ineligible to compete and there was strong opposition from coaches and parents. But in a matter of two years, in both of these instances, the percentage of students who were declared ineligible was the same as before the rule was enacted. (study by US. Sports Academy)


4. Assertion: A minimum GPA should be used by employers of teens as many employers of adults use it as well.

Reasoning: Teens might as well know now, when they can do something about it, that their GPA will continue to effect their future opportunities beyond high school and college.

Evidence: According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' "Job Outlook 2005" survey, 70 percent of hiring managers do report screening applicants based on their GPA.  And minimum GPA’s are not just used for employment but to get into college, to receive grants and financial aid, and to participate in extracurricular activities as well.  The majority of states even have a minimum GPA requirement for teens to get their driver’s licenses. Twenty-seven states have laws in place that allow a student's driving privileges to be suspended due to poor behavior at school. Five of the 27 specify that students must uphold satisfactory progress academically. (Huffington Post)


Assertions #5, 6

CON (4 assertions)


Employers- all employers of all industries



1. How is someone with a 1.99 GPA is significantly different than someone with a 2.0 GPA and thus shouldn’t be employed?

2. Why should the bar be set at 2.0? Why not 2.5, or 3.0?

1. Assertion: A GPA requirement puts teens at an unfair disadvantage with adults when competing for the same jobs.

Reasoning: In this economic downturn, many adults are taking jobs once thought of as minimum wage teen jobs.  This means teens must compete with adults for the same jobs and requiring the teen to have an additional qualification is unfair and discriminates on the basis of age.  It is a form of reverse age discrimination. 

Evidence: A study by the Employment Policies Institute states that the summer teen employment outlook looks bleak. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 32.6 percent of teenagers ages 16 to 19 were employed in 2008. It was a historic low, down from 45.2 percent in 2000. This year, all of the economic indicators point to the teen unemployment rate rising even further. And that means more bad news for youths looking for work because now they will be competing with adults for the same jobs. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert noted: “Good jobs are hard to find for most categories of workers... One of the results has been that older men and women have been taking and holding onto jobs that in prior eras would have gone to young people.”


2. Assertion: GPA is a bad way to measure whether a child will succeed in a job or not.

Reasoning: GPA tells employers nothing of an applicant’s ability to do the job and is an unnecessary and unhelpful as a predictor of an applicants’ qualifications. The GPA takes into account all of the student’s courses.  The knowledge required to do well in many of the courses that make up a GPA are totally irrelevant to being a competent employee.  For example, if an applicant is applying to McDonalds, why should a bad grade in music, art, history, foreign language or science matter?  A student’s mastery of any of these subjects has no bearing on his performance as a fast food employee.  Rather, employers should look at an applicant’s coursework that has a direct bearing on the job to be performed, like looking at a math grade for a cashier, or an English grade for a writing position.  Employers should only be interested in a teen’s class work that has a direct bearing on the job for which that teen is interviewing, not an overall evaluation.

Evidence: A 2006 survey by found that only 6% of employers thought that a job candidates’ GPA was the most important piece of information about an individual. The survey found that the interview and work experience were ranked higher than GPA when determining an applicant's aptitude.  Indeed, an employer has many other more equitable and telling ways to judge a teen job applicant, such as recommendations, sample work product, grades in directly-related classes, challenging classes taken, other work experience, relevant extra-curriculars, and interview performance.


3. Assertion: Employers who require a 2.0 minimum GPA will inadvertently engage in racial discrimination.

Reasoning: Naturally, Asian students and Caucasian students with more money and educational opportunity tend to score better on standardized tests and grade-wise then African American student or Hispanics with less opportunity. Once an employer asks for the applicant’s GPA, the employer can use this number to rank applicants and to dismiss those with lower GPAs.  Since minorities on average have lower GPAs, this will put them at a disadvantage in the hiring process.

Evidence: The Nation’s Report Card 2005 Transcript Study surveyed U.S. high schools and found in 2005 the average GPA of Asians was 3.16, whites, 3.05, Hispanics, 2.82 and African Americans, 2.69.  Thus, an employer asking for GPA information from job applicants opens the door to discriminating against lower GPA candidates, even if they meet the 2.0 threshold, if we are going to be basing employment on GPA. And since African Americans and Hispanics have lower average GPAs, this could lead to racial discrimination in employment practices.

This could result in higher unemployment among minorities, who already suffer higher unemployment rates than whites.  According to the US Department of Labor, unemployment rates for African American high school students is 47% and Hispanics 40%, compared with Caucasians at 23%.


4. Assertion: It is precisely those unskilled teen workers who are not college-bound with less than a 2.0 GPA who benefit the most from employment during the teenage years.

Reasoning: Why does a student have a low GPA?  There could be many reasons: a student could come from a background of poverty that doesn’t support or encourage academic performance, the student could be taking very challenging courses that few students can master above the C level; the student could have an undiagnosed or untreated learning disability; the student could be going through a difficult home situation that distracts them from their schoolwork.  Denying a teen the chance to earn money and gain relevant work experience through employment for any of these reasons is simply wrong and will lead to an unskilled workforce with no relevant work experience upon graduation from high school.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most teen jobs are minimum wage hourly labor in the food service industries. It is precisely the teenager who isn’t college-bound with a great GPA, who needs to have job experience in the real world the most.  These are the future service industry workers who need work experience to get jobs when they graduate from high school so they too can be productive members of society.   These are kids are not going to college; they are going right into the workforce when they graduate so they need the job experience the most.