CIHS to move to a weighted grades system beginning next school year

Cambridge-Isanti High School will move to a weighted grades system beginning with the next school year.

During the Jan. 19 Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting, the board approved moving to a weighted grades system starting with the 2017-2018 school year subject to an appeals process being in place by registration for next year’s classes.

High School Principal Brenda Damiani said under a weighted grades system, some courses are given additional weight when calculating GPA. This is usually for higher-level courses such as Advanced Placement or College in the Schools. The course grade is reported on the transcript, but the GPA is calculated with an additional weight.

Damiani explained a committee studied the merits of both a traditional 4.0 grading scale and a weighted grading scale, and high school faculty participated in a survey.

Damiani also met with the Academic Booster Committee, a group composed of both parents and students, to get input about weighted grades.

Damiani also made extensive contact with colleges and universities within Minnesota to understand the impact of both weighted and unweighted grades on the college admissions and scholarship process.

Damiani explained weighted grades encourage students to take college-level courses in high school and can assist students in college scholarships and admissions process.

In a survey of Minnesota high schools (not all responded), Damiani said approximately 60 percent of schools offered some type of weighted grade system, and in the Mississippi 8 Conference, five of the 10 schools offer weighted grades.

Damiani said unweighted grades do not hurt a student’s chance for admission to a particular college or university, as schools using a rank or percentile criteria will also consider students on a case-by-case basis. However, approximately one-half of the colleges and universities in Minnesota will consider weighted GPAs when determining scholarship amounts.

Damiani said after much discussion and deliberation, CIHS will use a dual reporting system composed of:
• Unweighted grades: All internal calculations, class rank and awards would be based on unweighted grades.
• Weighted grades: Transcripts for college admission and scholarships would be reported as unweighted and weighted.

Criteria for weighting courses will include Advanced Placement, Concurrent Enrollment (College in the Schools), Articulated Credit and Postsecondary Enrollment Options (by appeal).

“I feel the dual reporting system will benefit the most students,” Damiani said. “We will have to look at how this will affect Postsecondary Enrollment Options and bring back a proposal to the School Board.”

Damiani said weighted grades will be assigned a 1.25 multiplier. For example, an A, would have an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and a weighted GPA of 5.0. A grade of B+ would have an unweighted GPA of 3.33 and a weighted GPA of 4.1625.

Damiani said students will be informed of the change to the weighted grade system during the registration process for next year, which is set to begin in about a month.

Superintendent Ray Queener thanked Damiani for all her efforts on the weighted grades system proposal.

“The parent’s group was very involved with these weighted grade discussions,” Queener said. “Brenda has done a tremendous job, and we are fortunate to have her as our high school principal.”