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Schools to change grade scale

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County School Board voted 3-2 Monday to use a 10-point grade scale in the upcoming school year.

For well over 50 years Middlesex students have been graded on a “traditional” 7-point grade scale, where an A ranged from 94-100; B, 87-93; C, 80-86; D, 70-79; and F, 69-0. 

The new 10-point scale will have an A from 90-100; B, 80-89; C, 70-79; D, 60-69; and F, 0-59. There also will be no plus or minus grades.

School board members Richard Shores and Elliott Reed voted against the proposal. Shores was most concerned with doing away with plus and minus scores. He asked interim assistant school superintendent Dr. James Lane, who made the presentation, if he thought a 91 and 99 should be treated the same.

Dr. Lane said he felt both grades demonstrated “A work” in the classroom.

Shores disagreed and contended a 91 should be an A-, and a 99 an A+.

School board member Jim Goforth said that the plus and minus system has not been effective in the past because not all teachers have been willing to use it.

There have been efforts in the past to change to a 10-point grade scale. Proponents have argued that since other schools use this less-stringent grade scale, students from those schools have an advantage over Middlesex students when it comes time to get into college.

The stricter 7-point grade scale makes it more difficult to maintain a high grade point average (GPA), which is used by colleges to determine a student’s academic ability.

The argument against the 10-point grade scale is that it poses less of an academic challenge for students.

Goforth noted Mathews County schools considered a 10-point grade scale recently, but the school board voted it down.

Dr. Lane said the 10-point scale also helps improve graduation rates because it extends the passing grade from 70 to 60.

School board members Beth Hurd, Lee Walton and Goforth voted for the 10-point grade scale.

The recommendation to change the grade scale came from the school’s Grading Scale Committee, which was spearheaded by former assistant superintendent of schools Rashard Wright.

The board also agreed that the 10-point grade scale is not retroactive. It will take effect in the upcoming school year, and will have no impact on grades earned by students in the past.

posted 08.13.2009

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