Will a change in North Carolina’s high school grading practices reduce the pressure on students to load their schedules with advanced courses?
Under a change approved Thursday by the State Board of Education, students will get less credit on their grade point averages for taking Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and honors courses. High school students will only get one extra quality point for AP and IB courses and half an extra quality point for taking an honors course.
The change, according to state education officials, is supposed to reduce grade inflation, achieve equal weight for college-level courses and reduce the disincentive for students to take non-advanced courses.
The change goes into effect for freshmen enrolling in the 2015-16 school year. All current high school students and freshmen starting in the 2014-15 school year will be covered by the old policy.
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Currently, high school students who receive an A get six quality points in AP and IB courses and five quality points in an honors course. Other courses have a maximum of four quality points for an A.
The extra quality points boost the GPA when calculating class rank on high school transcripts. The extra credit means a C in an AP or IB class or a B in an honors course equals an A in a regular course,
Some students may skip regular courses they’d like in favor of the advanced courses with the extra quality points.
But under the new policy, students would get a maximum of five quality points for AP and IB classes and up to 4.5 quality points for honors courses.
During Thursday’s discussion, State Board member Kevin Howell asked if the change could result in a significant drop in the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses.
Deputy State Superintendent Rebecca Garland said that North Carolina has been giving more credit for AP courses than other states so the transcripts won’t look much different from those of students in other states after the change.
While the new grade scale might cause some students to not take AP courses, Garland said it’s counterbalanced by how the state will now pay the cost for taking AP exams instead of requiring students to do so out of their own pockets.
Click here for Thursday’s article by Lynn Bonner on why the change is backed by the state’s community colleges and the UNC system.