The R score (cote de rendement au collégial, CRC or cote R in French) is a statistical method which classifies college students' academic performances in Quebec. It is used by Quebec universities for selection purposes.
The R score is in fact a z-score (the number of standard deviations the student is above the class average) to which an indicator of group strength (ISG) has been added.
- R score = ( Z score + ISG + C ) x D , where C = D = 5
An R score is given for every college course, except high-school level upgrading courses, and courses in which fewer than 6 students are registered. However, Physical Education courses were given an R-score starting in the Fall 2007 semester and in subsequent semesters. The final, computed R score is the result of the weighted averaging of all the R scores from the individual courses. Also, an additional score of 0.5 is added to the overall R score to a student graduating with an International Baccalaureate degree or a DEC (Diplôme d'études collégiales) en Sciences, Lettres et Arts.
The Z score gives an indication of the grade of the student with respect to the grades of other students in the class.
The ISG is the Indicator of the Strength of the Group. It serves to indicate the relative strength of the student group that a student was part of during their course. This group strength is determined using the weighted grade results of all of the courses taken in Secondary IV and V for all of the group's students. The ISG was implemented primarily to offset the advantage enjoyed by high-performing students in weak class groups over equally high-performing students in strong class groups. The inclusion of the ISG in the determination of the R score allows for a more equitable comparison between students, regardless of their CEGEP's academic rank, although the effectiveness remains in dispute.
- ISG = ( Average grade results of Secondary IV and V of all the group's students - 75 ) ÷ 14
The use of a constant C (C=5) greatly reduces the possibility of a negative value in the score. The final operation, in multiplying the sum of all the preceding values by the D constant (D=5), positions them over a fixed amplitude scale. The average R score is usually in the mid-20s, and there is no maximum or minimum R score since the Z score function (used to calculate the R score) is inverse proportional, meaning when the Standard Deviation tends towards 0, the R score will tend towards positive or negative infinity depending on whether the student's average is higher or lower than the group's average.
Z score calculation: (Student's average grade for a course - Group's course average)/Standard Deviation
In addition, failed courses are given a reduced weight in the overall R-score; they are weighted at 25% of the credits in the first semester and subsequently at 50%. This correction has been in effect since October 2004.
Firsthand experience suggests that the R score is not as ideal a tool as it was meant to be. A recurring complaint from students is that the ISG does not seem to sufficiently offset the advantage enjoyed by students in weak groups. Such students have the opportunity to obtain grades much higher than the low average of their class, thus earning an elevated z-score, whereas students in strong groups cannot earn such high z-scores. The presence of the ISG is supposed to work to the advantage of students in strong groups. Thus, sometimes, the best students in weak groups have lower R scores than the best students in strong groups (for example students in enriched programs).
Such perceived weaknesses of the R score are particularly worrying, because it is the main and sometimes only criterion considered by Quebec universities during the admissions process. Since the R score is perceived as an absolute measure of a student's academic performance regardless of his/her College academic rank, differences smaller than 0.5 are often used to discriminate between candidates applying to programs with fixed quotas, such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry or law.