Academic Updates Improve Student Experience

Emily Yuan, Co-Editor-in-Chief

There are a number academic changes taking place for the 2022-2023 school year, including a new academic schedule, grading system, and curriculum review. 

Dr. MacNeil, Academic Dean, explains that COVID caused us to rethink many things, including schedules. Before the pandemic, the Kent schedule had been packed, with each class meeting every day. As we now are coming out of the pandemic, Dr. MacNeil believes we’ve established a schedule that should create a balance between academic and non-academic commitments. Similar to the schedule last year, this year’s schedule has a rotating schedule, with each class meeting three to four times each week. Different from last year, however, the Community Life block is scheduled like a class, so more academic classes can meet during the day. This results in more contact time for students and teachers, as well as a more regular lab block for the science courses. While the change in schedule seems minor, the implications are greatly beneficial for students. 

Also new this year is our grading system. Since the 1980s, Kent has used a 6.0 grading scale initially designed to help colleges understand the unique education at Kent. Though it benefited Kent students for decades, the 6.0 grading scale has lost its efficacy in recent years. As College Admissions Officers became busier, reading more applications files in the same amount of time, they began misunderstanding our grading system, which was a disadvantage for Kent sixth-formers. Therefore, Kent has decided to switch to a more common 4.0 grading scale. Said Mr. Rousseau, Director of College Counseling, “the college counseling office could not possibly be more pleased with the changes to Kent’s grade scale reporting policy. We believe the new scale will eliminate confusion, allowing college admissions offices to more easily evaluate our students without having to use their own methods of conversion.”

Beginning in the fall of 2021, and continuing over the summer of 2022, the Curriculum Committee has been discussing possible long-term changes in the academic program at Kent. Every five years, each academic department will review their curriculum and makes modifications as needed. The past summer, the Engineering, History, and Math Departments reviewed their curriculum. One result is that the Pre-Engineering program is now the Engineering Program, with slightly different requirements and a different focus. Math and history courses will also have different levels, order of courses, and electives. Dr. MacNeil believes that we will institutionalize change so Kent can continue to be a cutting-edge secondary school through the work of the curriculum committee. 

As the world of education changes rapidly and significantly, Dr. MacNeil is excited that “Kent is responsive to changes in the larger educational world while remaining a first-rate school.”