Educational Editorial: Grading scales in public schools

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Parents in many schools in Virginia, including Petersburg and Powhatan, have found that they have at least one thing in common: they want to change the grading scales.

The argument is that the more rigorous scales put their children at a disadvantage. Fairgrade, a Fairfax advocacy group, says that their students are less competitive for "good driver" insurance discounts, NCAA eligibility, merit scholarships and good colleges. So what is the solution to an argument that dates at least to a late 19th century Harvard pronouncement that A's and B's were being awarded "too readily."

Nine states have adopted the traditionally collegiate scale of 10- point spreads: 90 to 100 is an A; however, in Henrico it is 93 to 100. In 2008 Powhatan and Spotsylvania wrote to the Virginia Board of Education and asked for a statewide scale. The Board of Education declined noting that grading scales are a local decision.

And what about the argument for rigor and high expectations?  Young people are shaped by the boundaries that we create: if our expectations are high, then they are likely to reach them.

And if more students get A's and B's will selective colleges then admit more students, probably not. It seems that far too many parents and young people are looking for a shortcut to success. The real road to great colleges is paved with hard work

Amazingly, when scales have been liberalized, the number of A's and B's have not changed. Yes, you can alter the numbers, BUT it seems that teachers adapt.

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