Warsaw High changes grading and ranking systems

Warsaw Community High School is making changes to its grading and ranking systems.

The first of such changes will begin with the class of 2020.

WCHS will move from the 12.0 grade point average scale to the 4.0 scale. The majority of colleges and universities use the 4.0 scale and must convert any WCHS graduates to this scale, according to a news release from Warsaw Community Schools.

Also starting with the class of 2020, WCHS will recognize its top students through a system centered on the cum laude collegiate model. Through implementing this model, WCS will be able to recognize excellence within a graduating class past the previously used valedictorian and salutatorian awards model.

Students who are on track to receive an academic honors or technical honors diploma are eligible for consideration of the cum laude distinction.

“The course offerings at WCHS have exploded in the past five years,” Dr. David Hoffert, WCS superintendent said. “By following the example of the collegiate model, we will be able to honor the exemplary work of students in both traditional and non-traditional career paths. The opportunities for our students are so diverse and students are achieving to such high standards that it is important to honor their achievements.”

Last year in the class of 2016, 53 students earned a GPA higher than a 12.0.

Although WCS is the first local corporation to adapt its student recognition model, numerous other districts have retired recognition of only the top two students in each graduating class – including school districts in Chicago, North Carolina, Kentucky and more regionally schools such as Homestead High School, the release said.

WCS also will leave behind the practice of weighted grades. In the past, WCS students could take certain classes that were weighted more heavily than other courses due to increased rigor. This resulted in students prioritizing weighted classes to boost their GPA. Conversely, when classes are chosen solely to boost a GPA, other courses that might be more of interest to a student and his/her career path might have been ignored, the release states.

The cum laude structure, in addition to moving away from weighted grades, allows all students, not just the top two, the incentive to achieve during their high school career. The news release states, “These changes will help to remove unnecessary and sometimes unhealthy competition between classmates vying for the top two ranking positions.”

“Our former system was not in alignment with our mission, which states that we will inspire and equip all students to continuously acquire and apply knowledge and skills while pursuing their dreams and enriching the lives of others,” explained Dani Barkey, chief accountability officer for WCS. “Under the old system, if students wanted to stay in the race for valedictorian (or) salutatorian, they might have had to forego classes that had more interest for them because they did not have weighted grades attached. The new system allows students to forego the ‘points game’ and pursue a course of study that is relevant to each and every student.”