All North Carolina high school students will be graded on a 10-point scale starting next school year, a change State Board of Education members approved Thursday.
That means students will earn A’s if they score between 90 and 100. Currently, they’re graded on a 7-point scale.
State officials had previously decided in October to phase in the new 10-point scale with next year’s freshmen class. But Rebecca Garland, Deputy State Superintendent for the Department of Public Instruction, said that decision upset parents, students, teachers and superintendents.
“We heard concerns from parents,” Garland said. “They didn’t understand how they would explain to their children that one of them was on a 10-point grading scale, while the other was on a 7-point grading scale.”
Garland said there were also concerns from teachers about how to grade students in different grades who happen to be in the same course. In some cases, students could have completed the same work in a class, but received different letter grades.
Superintendents also expressed concerns about eligibility for athletic teams, which is determined by the number of courses students passed.
Garland said schools will not retroactively apply the 10-point scale, but that transcripts will indicate that different grading scales were applied. She said that the transcripts should also include the numerical and letter grades students receive in classes.
The state’s decision to change the scale comes after years of concerns and complaints from families that students were at a competitive disadvantage when applying for colleges.
Many school systems around the nation operate on a 10-point scale, while only a handful of states require all districts to adopt a 7-point scale.
WUNC reported on high school student Adam Geringer last year, who sent a proposal to policymakers, urging them to adopt a 10-point grading scale to help level the playing field.
He's glad he'll benefit from the recent change, but argues that the state's decision to apply the new grading scale to all high school students, and not just freshmen, is "driven by self-interests."
"The meddling of parents has only begun because they want to see a way to make their children look more appealing on college applications, not due to wanting to make things fair," he said. "If these parents truly cared, the Board of Education would have recognized this as an issue a year ago."