Posted by: newperspectives85 | August 17, 2013

Chesterfield county considering a change to grading scale 12.4.12

Chesterfield considers change to grading scale

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:52 pm, Tue Dec 4, 2012.

BY JEREMY SLAYTON Richmond Times-Dispatch

Chesterfield County education officials are considering a change to the division’s grading scale that would bring it more in line with others across the nation.

A committee of teachers, students, parents and administrators that led the division’s evaluation has proposed a 10-point grading scale as an alternative to the 6-point scale currently in place.

Parents have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the initial proposal through an online survey. A similar survey was sent to school staff members last week.

The call for input comes as a piece of good news to Jamie Stewart, a mother of two high school students and a member of the grading practice committee that was organized in the 2010-11 school year to evaluate the grading system.

“By putting this out there and discussing it … I’m happy they are at least willing to look at it,” said Stewart, who has long advocated for Chesterfield to move to a 10-point scale.

Chesterfield is evaluating its grading scale as part of its recently adopted Design for Excellence 2020 plan that will guide school policy and decision-making for the next decade.

Currently in Chesterfield, an A is 94 to 100 percent, while the initial proposal calls for an A (with plusses and minuses) to range from 90 to 100. One thing that does not change in the proposal is the failure line. In both, any grade of 63 percent and below is failing.

“We want to ensure our grades support student learning, measure student achievement, and get feedback on certain areas of strengths and weaknesses,” said Shawn M. Smith, spokesman for Chesterfield schools.

He noted that many school divisions in Virginia and across the nation have adopted a 10-point scale that is common in college courses and used by the College Board, which administers SAT tests.

Fairfax County schools, the largest division in Virginia, switched to a 10-point scale in 2009 after parents advocated for the change.

But that change has been slow to come to central Virginia. Of the Richmond area’s four largest school divisions, only Hanover and Henrico counties use the same scale. In those divisions, 69 and below is failing, while an A is in the 93 to 100 range.

Failing in Richmond Public Schools is 64 and below, while an A is attained with numerical grades of 92 to 100.

One state legislator from Northern Virginia is looking to change the disparity in grading scales across Virginia. Del. L. Mark Dudenhefer, R-Stafford, filed legislation last year to establish a statewide 10-point grading policy, but a House education subcommittee recommended continuing the discussion until the 2013 General Assembly session.

This is not the first time an effort was made to institute a 10-point scale statewide. In 2008, school districts in Powhatan and Spotsylvania counties took steps to address disparity among grading scales across the state by sending resolutions to the state Board of Education requesting the creation of a statewide grading policy.

Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle said that from time to time, a uniform grading scale has come before the Board of Education, but its response has not changed.

“On each occasion, the response of the board has been that grading scales are best determined locally, given all of the factors that would impact how one grading scale, while superficially identical to another one, might differ in terms of how teachers weigh the various types of work students do and so forth,” Pyle said.

Now that Chesterfield is proposing a 10-point grading scale — it still needs to be reviewed and ultimately adopted, rejected or amended by the School Board — Stewart’s work is just beginning. She wants to educate other parents on what a new grading scale would mean to students.

One thing it doesn’t mean, she said, is lowering standards in the classroom. That is a message that she wants to get across.

“I think the biggest concern I have is … trying to get parents to understand, because there is an inaccurate perception that this is going to lower our standards or that our kids should just work harder,” Stewart said. “In fact, all we’re doing is aligning ourselves and standardizing our grading scale to what the rest of the state and the country are doing.”

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