Factors Influencing Grade Structure at Catholic Secondary Schools

Drawing on his extensive educational background, Father Thomas Maikowski has dedicated more than three decades to Catholic ministry and education. Holding bachelor’s degrees from both Notre Dame and Saint Francis de Sales Colleges, he also earned four master’s degrees in secondary education, religious education, theology, and school administration. Additionally, Father Thomas Maikowski completed doctorates in both education and private school administration.

While fulfilling his doctor of education in private school administration at the University of San Francisco, Father Maikowski defended a dissertation focused on the grade structure of Catholic secondary schools. His research considered 37 Catholic schools located across the United States that served students from grades 7-12. Drawing input from diocesan superintendents and school principals, he investigated the rationale behind each school’s shift from a 9-12 to 7-12 grade structure. The researcher-developed survey posed questions in six categories, seeking to discover the demographic, educational, cognitive, psychological and financial factors that contributed to each structural change. The survey also sought to discover perceived positive and negative effects of expanding the grade structure.

Responses from 65 Catholic school principals and superintendents indicated that psychological considerations played the most significant role in academic grade-structure decisions, with the majority of respondents citing the numerous potential benefits their programs would present to 7th and 8th grade students. Analyzing his research results and other relevant publications, Father Maikowski concluded that neither grade structure was objectively more effective.