Wake Ed

North Carolina phasing in high school grading changes

Current North Carolina high school students cheering the switch to the 10-point grading scale are out of luck.

As noted in today’s article, the switch to the 10-point scale won’t begin in high schools until the 2015-16 school year starting with freshmen. Current high school students will continue to operate on the seven-point scale.

The state also made a similar decision to phase in changes to the value given to honors and Advanced Placement courses. Those changes also won’t start until the 2015-16 school year with freshmen.

For the next few years, dual grading and quality points systems will be in place in the state’s public high schools.

What this means is students in the same class could be scored differently. For instance, a sophomore, junior or senior in an honors course next year who scores a 92 would get a B with the class worth 5.0 quality points. But a freshman in that class with a 92 would get an A with the class being worth 4.5 quality points.

The reason being given for a dual system is to promote fairness for students in the same grade level.

At Thursday’s meeting, State Board of Education member Wayne McDevitt praised state education officials for recommending a roll-out that begins with next year’s freshmen class. But he said it needs to be explained carefully to people.

“This is highly emotional for some folks, not a large number but for some folks,” McDevitt said. “I just encourage you to develop a roll-out plan that communicates to parents, directly to parents, in some way so that they fully understand this.”

Deputy State Superintendent Rebecca Garland responded that communication was going to be vital.

“There is no easy way to transition,” Garland said. “You either have to move everybody into one year or start with the freshman class. If you move everybody at one time, you do put at a disadvantage children in various cohorts – some of whom will have taken courses that are at one value, some will have taken at another.

So to make it fair for cohort comparisons, moving with the freshman class is one way to do that. It will mean that within some classes that you will have students who may be getting different quality points and different letter grades for the same number. But there for three years during that transition, we’ll just have to deal with the transition.”

Click here to view how different the 10-point scale will be from the seven-point scale.