Education Editorial: Grading

By: Bill Bosher - email

Well it seems that the never-ending discussion about grading systems has emerged again in central Virginia.

What is a "B" worth? A well-organized group in Fairfax moved the school division to a "10 point" scale with the argument that students were being penalized in competition for acceptance at colleges.

The assumption is that a student with 90 on a ten-point scale gets an A while the student with a 5-6 point scale gets a B. They also state that most colleges do not recalculate the grades to determine their own estimate of a GPA…grade point average.

In reality, many four-year "selective" institutions recalculate the GPA using only the courses from the transcript that have predictive value. For families who had moved from other states where the 10-point system is common, any variation in student performance may be attributed to the grading system.

For those who already think that the system is against them, they have new allies. Supporters of a more rigorous grading scale argue that change is "dumbing us down". Expectations have been lowered and grades inflated.

In reality it probably doesn't matter because of one clear and common sense factor…teachers adapt. Advocates of change have never acknowledged what Fairfax discovered the first time that it "opened" its scale…the numbers of A's, B's, C's, D's and F's did not change.

You know…our children have learned from us that the best defense against a speeding violation is to blame it on the speedometer.

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