Change in Grade Scale: July 2019

Please read the note below from our principal regarding the recent change in grade scale:

July 2019

From Dr. Megan Stanton-Anderson:

Over the course of this past year, we have engaged with faculty, parents and our Board of Directors about the topic of our 7 point grade scale. We also engaged College Admissions Officers, surveying 33 at our College Fair, and have consulted with a range of public and private high schools about their grade scale and the rationale for either a 10 point or a 7 point scale. 

Perhaps one of the more important discussions about this was with our students. Ms. Dempsey and I met with a sampling of students who represented their classmates, to listen to their thoughts and research on this topic and their proposed changes to our grade scale. It was illuminating to listen to their insights and perspectives and confirmed some of the same sentiments we had heard from other groups. 

Over the course of the year, we have been researching the differences between a 7 point scale (our current scale) and a 10 point scale. While one can find research to support the use of both, our research has led us to the following conclusions:    

  • Student anxiety and stress around grades is amplified when a grade scale does not align well with the amount of effort a student puts into their school work. Lower grades can often lead to poor self-esteem and a fixed mindset about their ability to achieve at higher levels
  • Multiple CPS and neighboring private schools utilize a 10 point grade scale
  • A 10 point grade scale could have significant benefits for middle-achieving students
  • Opportunities for stronger grades may lead to increased opportunity for college scholarships
  • Opportunities for stronger grades better positions students for college admittance

As a result of our research, discussions with various constituencies and consultation with DePaul University, we have made a decision to adopt a 10 point grading scale.  This scale, which will be implemented this academic year (2019-20), will continue to allow us to communicate to students and parents about a student’s level of learning within his or her classes. It will also afford our students greater opportunities in areas decided upon by institutions and agencies beyond our walls.  This new scale will not affect the level of rigor in lessons and assignments nor our expectations around student learning.  

Please Note: The new 10 point scale will not be retroactively applied to a student’s grades. It will be implemented for the 2019-2020 school year moving forward. Colleges will be apprised of this change on our College Profile so that Admissions Officers will see that a different grade scale was utilized earlier in a student’s high school experience.

Please note that consideration was given about whether to recalculate grades from years prior.  In our research across other schools making this transition, we found that none of these schools engaged in this practice. Another technical difficulty is presented by our grade book system (Schoology) in that it only records letter grades and not percentages for a student's grades. Therefore, we are not able to convert past grades to our new scale because we do not have a history of past percentage grades earned by students. We recognize that this will be challenging for some to accept but know that this was considered and researched before making our final decision.

We make this change understanding that for many, this will be positive but there will likely be some in opposition. We understand that change can be difficult but see this as a step in further supporting our students in achieving the best possible outcome both while they are here at DePaul Prep and in their future college opportunities.