Chesterfield parents can now weigh in on a possible change in the way their children are graded in school.
The school system is asking parents to participate in a survey about proposed changes to the grading scale. Chesterfield County currently grades on a six-point scale, whereas many other schools in the Commonwealth grade on a 10-point scale.
The survey includes just four questions to parents, but it's the next step in the county's discussion about how kids get graded.
The high school grading scale has come under some scrutiny across Virginia lately, because parents say kids on a six-point scale have trouble competing with peers during college admissions.
"If you have a student out in Missouri who has a 92 percent in trigonometry and you have a student in Chesterfield who has a 92 percent in trigonometry, the student in Missouri will get an A on their transcript and the student in Chesterfield will get a B+," explained parent Jamie Stewart.
Of the 10 biggest school systems in Virginia, seven use the 10-point scale now. One of those is Fairfax County. Recently, a group called Fairgrade fought to change the Fairfax school system's grading scale and won.
Chesterfield is the 5th biggest school system in Virginia with roughly 60,000 students. School leaders say they've been looking at a possible grading scale change since 2010 and have formed a committee to look into the subject.
"[We're] looking to have some consistency, not just in our school division, but across the state, certainly from the college board perspective and colleges," explained Shawn Smith, a spokesperson for the school system.
Education expert, Dr. Bill Bosher, said whether Chesterfield goes with the six-point system or the 10-point system, might not actually matter when it comes to colleges.
"Four-year institutions frequently don't look at the GPA that you send," explained Bosher. "They look at your transcript. They pull out the courses that they think are important to success at that institution and recalculate a GPA."
Plus, Bosher said even if the grading scale was switched, research indicates grades don't really switch at all.
"The numbers of As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Fs hasn't changed," said Bosher. "Teachers adapt."
Stewart has been doing her own research as her son applies for college and disagrees.
"I contacted UCLA and one of the things that they said to me is, 'We have 50,000 applications that come in a year,'" said Stewart. "'We simply do not have time to recalculate grades.'"
School leaders said they're considering it all.
"We want to have a grading practice that measures strengths and weakness and provides the appropriate feedback to students," said Smith.
That's why Smith said they need parents to weigh in by answering the survey and being a part of the process. The parent survey is due December 20. Smith said staff members took a survey last week.
Any changes, if approved by the School Board, would not begin for at least two school years.
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