Changes to grading scale considered

Principal says any adjustments would not take effect until 2018-2019


Liam Keenan

Junior Olivia Makara, junior Gabi Hanahan and sophmore Patricia Mostata study in the library on Feb. 3. If the grading scale was altered, higher grades would be more attainable for students.

Sara Kress, Reporter

It’s a good time to really look at some of our policies because we’re bringing someone new in who can challenge it or question it or endorse it. Because I think a new president needs to agree with the way you run things.”

— Mr. Worland

Grades are often the focal point of a high school student’s life. The grading scale is their ultimate judge, determining if they pass or fail. Recently, Cathedral has been considering changing our grading scale, something that may be a deciding factor in students’ future.

Nothing new

Thinking about changing the grading scale is not a new concept to Principal Mr. Dave Worland. “We’ve discussed (changing the grading scale) in past years, but we’ve never changed it,” he said.

This discussion about grades is occurring during an opportune time because of Cathedral’s new president. “It’s a good time to really look at some of our policies because we’re bringing someone new in who can challenge it or question it or endorse it. Because I think a new president needs to agree with the way you run things,” Worland said.

Potential grading scales

There are two routes the administration is looking at in regards to the grading scale. The first option is moving to a ten point grading scale. With this scale, a 60 percent or above would be considered a passing grade, which differs from the 70 percent or above that is needed on the current grading scale. Around 60 percent of high schools in our area use this grading scale, according to Worland. “If we change (the grading scale) it will be exactly like the scale that 60% of the schools have,” he said.

There are both positives and negatives to the ten point scale. Worland said, “It would benefit the students because their grades would increase, if they continue working just as hard.” High Bs would become As, high Cs would become Bs and so on, which would benefit student’s GPAs.

However, the less rigorous scale may not be as helpful when it comes to college. “If you start making it too easy to get high grades, then you lose credibility at many colleges,” Worland said.

Mattei said she thinks that this grading scale will hurt students’ work ethic. “It all depends on how hard you work, and I think that if (the administration) lowers the standards, then people are just going to lower their own standards,” she said.

The second direction that could possibly be taken is to get rid of letter grades all together and only deal with the percentages. This scale is Worland’s preferred method. He said, “I like the percentage. It just makes sense to me.”

Changing mindsets

The percentage scale is odd in that it really is not a grading scale. Nothing is lost in translation; a 94 percent is a 94 percent, not an A. Worland said, “You don’t have to convert at all, you just see the percentage.”

Getting rid of letter grades would require changing the whole mindset of the school. “People would need to quit thinking of As through Fs,” Worland said. He said he believes that Cathedral will be able to adapt. “It would be something that we would tackle together as a school,” he said.

Junior Megan Mattei said she thinks removing letter grades will not prepare students for college. “You’re going to have letters in college and everyone is still going to know a 93 is an A,” she said. Mattei does not believe people will be able to change their mindset about grades. Her initial reaction to the idea of a different grading scale was the following: “I think it might be confusing and weird.”

A push to work harder

The percentage scale would also necessitate a change in GPA calculations.

With our current grading scale, GPA is calculated by the letter grade. With no letter grade, how will GPA be measured? Worland said, “There are ways that you can calculate (GPA) mathematically with a percentage, and you can get the same result.”

This different GPA calculation could alter some students’ GPAs. Right now, a 94 and a 98 are equal when considered for GPA, as they are both As.

But with a mathematical calculation, those two grades would not be equal. Worland said, “(The percentage scale) would push students to work harder because they want the higher percentage.”

All this talk of a new grading scale is hypothetical, however. Worland and the administration have to do plenty of research before anything is put into effect. “Since we’re in the studying phase, realistically, any changes would not take effect any time before the start of the 2018-2019 school year,” Worland said.

Many people believe it is time to change the old grading scale.

Worland said, “I hear this every year from students and parents and teachers: ‘is it fair that with our percentages it’s harder to get better grades than some of the other schools in the area?’”