No benefit to switch to 10-point grading scale

Published 9:18 am Friday, September 3, 2010

To the Editor:

A 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that completing academically challenging work increases the chances of a student earning a bachelor’s degree.

The study, called The Toolbox Revisited, found that the academic intensity of curriculum is the strongest indicator of degree completion.

“Students who enter college should be prepared for college level work,” said the Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. The study followed students from the Class of 1992 versus the Class of 1982, which was the first Toolbox study.

The school system in Brook Mountain, Ala., recently studied a change to a 10-point scale and found that students would not benefit from such a change. Colleges such as Yale, Virginia Military Institute, Chicago, Texas, University of Georgia, Florida, Illinois and others stated that a 10-point scale would not give any benefit versus an eight-point scale.

In fact, because teachers “grade to scale,” some students might be penalized under a 10-point system.

An additional study by the Education Department in 2007 found that despite harder courses, there were no increases in test scores, which many attributed to “grade inflation” suggesting wider grading scales.

Placement tests determine what schools students are admitted into, backed by grade-point average and overall grades. If we give away an “A” for poorer performance, the student gets lower placement scores, fewer admissions and fewer scholarships. The only one hurt is the student.

Isle of Wight must demand more of students to earn that grade of excellence. Watering down our standards is akin to shooting ourselves in the foot, then wondering why we can’t walk.

Dave Lyons