Wake Ed

April 2, 2014

Wake County may try to change high school grading scale

Wake County school administrators are talking with their counterparts in North Carolina’s other large districts about getting state permission to move to a 10-point grading scale in high school.

There’s an effort underway by some of the state’s largest school districts, including Wake County, to get state permission to create a 10-point grading scale for high schools.

Wake County high schools use a seven-point grading scale where an A is 93 to 100, B is 85 to 92, C is 77 to 84, D is 70 to 76 and F is less than 70. But some school leaders want a 10-point scale where an A is 90 to 100, B is 80 to 89, C is 70 to 79, D is 60 to 69 and F is below 60.

Wake school officials have blamed the state’s efforts to mandate a standardized high school transcript with preventing the district from changing the grading scale. But there are signs that things could be changing.

At last week’s school board policy committee meeting, board members reviewed the current high school grading scale. School board member Jim Martin, the chair of the committee, repeated his desire to change the grading scale.

“I’d love to move to the 10-point scale, but we can’t do that right now,” Martin said. “I think it’s ironic that you can take an AP (Advanced Placement) course and get six points, let’s say, AP Calculus. But if you take Calculus at N.C. State or Wake Tech, you only get five points. But that’s the logic that we have to work with.”

“I will say that there are some other large districts that are in the state that are trying to generate some momentum around the 10-point scale, and I am in collaboration with those discussions,” replied Todd Wirt, Wake’s assistant superintendent for academics.

“Great,” Martin responded. “I’d love to see motion on that.”

If you go online, you’ll see plenty of talk pro and con about the 10-point scale.

Supporters give reasons such as how a 10-point scale might cause more students to get As and Bs and could result in an increase in student self-esteem and confidence. Critics say a 10-point scale might diminish student motivation to achieve higher standards.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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