New Schedule & 10-Point Grading Scale
Major initiatives that improve the experience of De Smet Jesuit students will launch with the 2017-2018 school year. These initiatives – an 8-period modified block schedule and a 10-point grading scale – are student-centered, research-driven and forward-thinking, and are inspired by a strategic curricular plan that was unveiled in the spring of 2017.
Following are highlights of the new 8-period modified block schedule and the 10-point grading scale.
After extensive research to find a schedule that fits our Jesuit mission-driven and student-centered approach to education, we have concluded that adding an eighth period to our schedule and adopting a modified A/B block schedule will best serve our students in the coming years.
8-PERIOD MODIFIED BLOCK SCHEDULE
- •Offers more flexibility, more study hall options, and more independent work time
- •Gives students a higher chance to receive first-choice classes
- •Keeps the daily schedule more predictable
- •Allows for the Ignatian trademarks of deeper reflection, thoughtful questioning, and longer discussions
- •Emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity while maintaining a traditional academic core
- •Develops stronger student/teacher relationships
- •Decreases discipline issues and student absences
- •Improves academic achievement with a later start that allows for extra sleep
- •Enables faculty to better serve students with time for common department planning
- •Reduces student stress
Key Points to Remember
- •This is not a traditional block schedule — all classes will meet over the course of the year--traditional blocks have four classes per semester.
- •Homeroom will begin at 8:30 a.m. and dismissal will be at 3 p.m., offering teenagers a little extra sleep in the morning. Studies have shown that more sleep for adolescents increases academic achievement.
- •The new schedule will be simplified considerably compared to our previous daily schedule.
- •Students have a much higher likelihood of being placed in their first-choice electives with this schedule.
- •Departments will have common planning periods for increased collaboration--a practice proven to increase academic performance in students.
- •Our teachers already have experience teaching in a block — Thursday and Friday have been block schedule days for years. We will provide additional professional development to our faculty to ensure students are fully engaged in classwork. The block also affords time for more highly engaged projects and more profound critical thinking and discussions. The current 45-minute class periods limit our students’ ability to do the most engaging classwork.
- •In a recent survey sent to the student body, 95% of your sons agreed that block schedules reduce stress. Creighton Prep, a high school that went to this schedule six years ago, reports that discipline issues decreased significantly after switching to the block schedule. Also, student absences decrease.
This decision is a strategic one. It will allow us to more profoundly realize our mission to inspire and prepare men for and with others to transform the world Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam — for the greater glory of God. When we do so, your sons benefit; we as a community benefit; and ultimately the world benefits.
10-POINT GRADING SCALE
For years, De Smet Jesuit has employed a 7-point grading scale. After extensive evaluation and professional review, the decision was made to shift to a 10-point grading scale beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. This transition aligns De Smet Jesuit with prevailing conventions and benefits our students while more accurately capturing their academic achievements.
Specific benefits of the 10-point grading scale include:
Improves college admissions process
First impressions matter and admissions officers aren’t always getting the best possible impression of our students’ academic abilities. A transcript from a 7-point grading scale that has "mostly Bs with a few Cs" becomes a transcript with "mostly As and Bs" on a 10-point scale — without changing the student's percentages. The 10-point scale is quite advantageous for our students, and it levels the playing field for GPA-based scholarships. Also, the 10-point scale is increasingly becoming the norm for high school transcripts, so moving to this scale removes the confusion that a non-standard scale can pose for admissions officers.
Aligns with college grading scales
Colleges overwhelmingly prefer the 10-point scale for their grading. Adopting the scale for high school eases the transition our students will experience as they move on to undergraduate work.
Eases process for students and families
There will no longer be a need for parents to remember grade cutoffs; they will know at a glance what letter grade a percentage grade equates to. At present, many parents do not remember, for example, where the cutoff between C and B is. This simplifies the question considerably and also eases the transition for students coming from a 10-point elementary or junior high school.
Maintains current class rigor and teacher standards
Teachers still set their grading standards, so no loss of rigor or academic strength occurs on a 10-point scale, and in fact, rigor can be increased. Many students may also be encouraged to strive for more advanced classes, as the new scale slightly widens the envelope for grades they see as achievable.
Student GPAs will be calculated using the 10-point grading scale beginning in the fall of 2017, so numerical values from previous years and letter grades already on transcripts will not change. Information regarding this change will be added to our school profile that is sent with applications to colleges.