North Carolina Board of Education changes grading scale

For the future students of Northwood, honor roll may become easier to attain.

The North Carolina Board of Education approved a change in the North Carolina grading scale from a seven-point scale to a 10-point scale. The change will come into effect for incoming freshmen in August.

This change will not affect the current students at Northwood. All students entering the school, however, will use a 10-point grading scale, while students who entered Northwood 2014 and earlier will continue using the seven-point scale until it phases out.

“The State Board of Education has decided that starting with the freshmen class of next year, they will no longer be on the seven- point scale,” principal Justin Bartholomew said. “They will be on the 10-point scale. What that means is on the transcripts, if you’re scoring an 89 and I’m scoring an 80, on our transcript we each get a B.”

Most problems will present themselves when next year’s freshmen have classes with other grade levels.

“The biggest challenge is going to be for the teachers who have both freshmen and sophomores,” Bartholomew said. “Within a class, if you’re a freshman and I’m a sophomore and we both get an 87, your grade is going to be higher.”

Along with the change in letter grades, there will also be a change in how GPA is weighted. Currently, a student taking an honors class will have one point added to their GPA and a student taking an AP class will have two points added to their GPA. With the change, an honors class will add 0.5 points and an AP class will add 1 point.

Relatively, this will not change the importance of AP and Honors classes.

“You’re still going to need the same quali- fications to get into the best schools,” guidance counselor Sonia Logan said. “Whether you get two weighted points or one weighted point, they’re going to want to see that on your transcript.”

North Carolina’s largest school districts have pushed for the change to simplify the grading system. Failure rates in schools are expected to shift with the change in the grading system.

“Students who may be failing with a 65 or a 66 would be passing now, so it’s a benefit from that standpoint,” Bartholomew said.

Some students feel that the change is not fair for those who will have a seven-point scale at the same time as the 10-point scale students.

“I think [current students] will be at a disadvantage,” freshman Josh Thompson said. “I feel like all the new students are just going to have an A.”

Thompson also believes that the change should not take place at all.

“The grading scale should stay the same,” Thompson said. “We look better as students with a seven-point grading scale because with the 10-point, it is easier to get an A.”

From the perspective of a rising freshman, the change may not have such a significant effect as some might think.

“I don’t think I’ll have much of an unfair advantage because teachers will be grading the same; it will just be different letter grades,” current 8th grader Lars Hoeg said.

Some believe that although the change could create a difficult transition, it needs to take place in order to create a simpler grading system across the state.

“I think there’s going to be a slight disadvantage [for current students], but I think it’s a good change and that it has to happen,” senior Rory O’Dell said.

Explaining the grading scale change to students and parents will be one of the largest challenges throughout the transition period.

“It’s hard for the teachers because now the teachers and the school are going to have to let the parents know that, ‘Yes, the person sitting next to your child may have gotten the same exact grade but it’s a different letter grade, but that’s the way the state system set it up for that increment of time,’” Bartholomew said.

Although the grading scale will be changing, the way teachers grade students will not change based on what grade they are in.

“From a teaching standpoint, if I’m a teacher, I’m not going to change the way I grade or my practices,” Bartholomew said. “I’m going to maintain what I’ve been doing, especially if I have a mix of students from different grades.”

Although the transition could seem like an unfair situation for the time being, some are focusing on the benefits it will have.

“I wish I had a 10-point scale because it would have taken a lot of the stress out of high school,” senior John Atwater said. “It’s also easier to measure a 10-point grading scale rather than a seven-point scale, and it should also be easier to measure GPA wise. Looking back on the grades that I have, I wish I had a 10-point grading scale because my grades would look a lot better than what they are now.”

There are still problems that could arise with the transition, such as students striving for the bare minimum instead of focusing on getting higher letter grades to fit into the category of A’s and B’s.

“I doubt [work ethic in students will decrease],” Bartholomew said. “I doubt it only because students who are going to be getting those high grades are going to keep on working hard. They’re not going to suddenly stop.”

Although the transition period could create some difficulties, Bartholomew does not think the grading scale change will have much of an impact.

“The biggest complexities will be calculating a class rank,” Bartholomew said. “There’s going to be a lot of people tied up at the top, which some people think is not good and some people think it is good. To me, it doesn’t matter as long as kids are learning. It’s not the number, it’s not the letter.”

-By Katie Robbins