Academics » Academic FAQ

Academic FAQ

“S” is for Scholarship

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Feehan's grading, leveling, honors, AP classes, and more…
Students receive numerical grades in each full-year course during each of the four terms. Students take midyear and final exams which also receive numerical grades that are separate from the term grades. The “final” grade for the course appears on the student’s transcript with each term grade counting for 20% of the final grade and each exam grade counting for 10% of the final grade. Final grades for semester-length courses are calculated with the two terms worth 40% and the exam worth 20%.
Grade Point Average (GPA) is the average value of the accumulated grades earned in courses over time. GPA takes into account the number of courses, the grade in each course, and the length of the course (semester or all year.) All classes in the six core academic areas count towards GPA. Some higher level arts classes also count towards GPA. Most introductory arts classes and Pass/Fail classes do not count towards GPA. GPA is calculated at the end of each semester during freshman and sophomore years, and then recalculated at the end of each quarter thereafter. Contact the guidance office for information on your child's GPA.

Unweighted GPA (also called simple GPA or SGPA) is a true average of a student’s overall grades without taking the level of difficulty of courses into account.  SGPA uses only the grades in each course during the calculation.  SGPA can be reported as a percentage (i.e., 90.00) or can be translated to a standard GPA scale (i.e., 3.5/4.0).  SGPA is reported to colleges during the application process.  

Weighted GPA (also called adjusted GPA or AGPA) takes the level of each course into account during the calculation.  AGPA give students a numerical advantage for grades earned in higher-level courses.  “Weights” or “quality points” are added to a student’s grades before calculating the cumulative average.  Quality points are assigned on a graduated scale, with higher levels receiving more quality points.  Since weighting systems vary greatly from school to school, Bishop Feehan High School strongly discourages the practice of comparing AGPA among students and especially against comparing to other schools.  For this reason, Bishop Feehan does not report or distribute weighted GPA information.  AGPA is not reported to colleges during the application process.  Bishop Feehan only uses AGPA to determine a student’s decile ranking.

Bishop Feehan High School uses a “decile” ranking system based on weighted GPA (AGPA.) Deciles sort data into ten equal parts, so a student in the “first” decile is in the top 10% of their class based on their grades and the difficulty of their courses. A second decile student is between 10-20%, third decile between 20-30%, and so on. The GPA range of any given decile is dependent on the overall performance of all the students in that specific class. It cannot be compared to other schools or from year to year within one school. Decile ranking is reported to colleges during the application process. Bishop Feehan High school does not report actual student rank to colleges or families. Actual rank is only used at the end of senior year to determine valedictorian, salutatorian, tree dedicator, and top ten awards. Contact the guidance office for information on your child's decile rank.
Honor Roll is a recognition of high performing students based on the student’s overall average in any given quarter, regardless of the levels of their classes. Honor Roll is determined during each individual quarter and is not cumulative. Bishop Feehan has three levels of Honor Roll. First Honors is awarded to students whose overall average in that quarter is 93.00 or higher. Second Honors is awarded to students whose overall average in that quarter is 90.00 or higher. Third Honors is awarded to students whose overall average in that quarter is 85.00 or higher. Students’ averages are not rounded when determining Honor Roll level. Students who have any grade below 80 in any given quarter are not eligible for Honor Roll. A student who has any Incomplete grades at the time that Honor Roll is generated is not eligible for Honor Roll. Students who are named to the Honor Roll at any level for all of the first three quarters of any school year receive a certificate of recognition at Academic Awards Night in June.
The Mercy Chapter of the National Honor Society inducts new members in November of each year. Eligibility requirements include academic criteria as well as demonstrated leadership and service.  Students who have attained a cumulative weighted grade point average of 3.5/4.0 or higher by the conclusion of second semester of either their sophomore year or junior year are invited to apply.   This GPA requirement is approximately equivalent to a cumulative 85 average in all Honors-1 classes.  Students in other level classes require higher averages in those classes in order to meet the GPA requirement.  Students must not have had any serious disciplinary infractions and must have attended Bishop Feehan for a full semester before being considered for eligibility. Members of the NHS are required to document additional service activities during junior and senior year to maintain membership.  Students who have a serious disciplinary infraction or whose GPA drops below the 3.5 requirement may be dismissed from the NHS after an administrative review.  Students must pay dues each year.  Members of the NHS in good standing are recognized at graduation and wear a gold stole over their gowns.
Bishop Feehan High School holds chapter membership in ten subject area honor societies.  These societies hold a combined induction in March of each year.  The induction requirements are based on national standards for each society and are published in Shamrock Studies and the student handbook.  Members in good standing in subject area honor societies wear colored honor cords over their robes at graduation.  Dues are required and vary by society.
Advanced Placement (AP) is a program offered by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. The content and workload of these courses is demanding, and expectations are high for the students, teachers and the school in general. AP teachers receive regular training and are audited annually by the College Board.
Students request AP courses through the normal course selection and registration process. They are strongly advised to consult with their guidance counselor, teachers, and department chairs to choose the AP courses that will help them meet their academic goals. Students must meet prerequisites in order to be approved for enrollment. Prerequisites are published in the Shamrock Studies course catalog. Due to the rigorous demands of AP coursework, Bishop Feehan strongly believes that juniors and seniors should limit their enrollment to no more than three AP courses per academic year.
For more detailed information about our AP Program, visit our AP Program web page.
Students are assigned to levels for each course based on academic performance. Starting in January, students, in collaboration with their parents, guidance counselors and teachers, request courses and levels for the coming year. Course requests are reviewed by each department, along with the student’s current progress and past academic performance. Final level assignments are determined by a committee of academic chairs, guidance counselors, and administration. Parents may request a review of level placement, but the school makes the final determination. Our leveling process is explained in detail in our online course catalog, Shamrock Studies.
While there is certainly some subjectivity involved in leveling decisions, it’s important to note that Feehan’s sole goal in leveling decisions is the best interest of the student. Experience with years and years and hundreds and hundreds of students allows Feehan staff a unique, professional perspective on the best level for a student. Finding the “right” level for a student (where that student can be appropriately challenged and thrive) is the best way for that student to succeed in both the short- and long-term and also the best way for our faculty to succeed and fellow students to succeed.
Yes, level changes can sometimes take place during the school year. Most often, the need for a level change would be apparent during the first marking period. Rarely, they may take place as late as the end of the first semester. Level changes during the school year are initiated through a recommendation by the current teacher. Student and parents may advocate for a level change by starting a conversation with the teacher. The teacher will consult with their department chair and the student’s guidance counselor before making a recommendation. Again, Feehan’s sole goal in these matters is the best interest of the student. Generally, a student would be recommended or approved for a higher level if they are achieving a strong “A” average without undue stress or extraordinary effort. A student could be recommended or approved for a lower level if performance is poor despite extra effort. Students are not moved down a level if poor grades come from lack of effort.
Level changes during the school year can impact the student’s schedule, therefore a draft copy of a new schedule is provided before making a final decision on a level change. Occasionally, class sizes prevent the ability to make a level change. Students who change a level during the school year have their grades in that class adjusted by the difference in quality points between the levels.
Incoming freshman placement is difficult due to the fact that students are coming from numerous communities and schools to be placed on a spectrum of levels at one school. Inevitably, students may be placed at very different levels than they were in middle school.
Grade 9 students are placed in levels based on performance on the December entrance exam, the March placement tests, the middle school report card, and any other standardized testing that is forwarded to us. The March placement tests, particularly the writing sample, carry more weight for English, History, and Science levels. The world language test and math test are used to determine the “year” of placement (i.e., Algebra 1 vs. Algebra 2 or Spanish 1 vs. Spanish 2) while standardized tests are used as primary level placement tools in these areas. Students can be placed in different levels for each class.
While incoming freshman placement is challenging, Feehan does have professional experience with hundreds (thousands, really) of incoming students from dozens and dozens of schools (often the same schools year after year) and relationships with the Principals and counselors at many of these schools (and data on previous placements from these schools) to help guide the process. Level placements for grade 9 students are reviewed about 5 to 6 weeks into the school year and recommendations for change are made based on current performance in each class.
Yes! Feehan's teachers are famously accessible and available to our students, typically before and after school almost every day. Students are encouraged to proactively work with their teachers when they feel that the work is getting difficult. Feehan also has a full-time resource teacher available in our media center/library for scheduled and drop-in help for our entire student body. In addition, all of our Honor Societies offer tutoring for students in all subjects. Honor societies include NHS, Art, French, Spanish, Latin, Science, Math, Social Studies, Mandarin Chinese, and Music.