Most want new grading scale

Published 10:17 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—More than 90 percent of the Isle of Wight parents and students who participated in a survey support switching to a 10-point grading scale.

More than 85 percent said the change would increase college admissions to schools of choice and academic scholarships.

School Board Chairman David Goodrich said the division’s grading scale would be on the board’s January agenda for discussion and action.

“I’ve heard of mandates in politics before, but the numbers I heard, I can’t call that anything but a mandate,” parent Brian Grumbling told the School Board Thursday. “I can’t imagine that many people in one room agreeing on anything.”

The survey results were presented to the board in the school division’s Grading Scale Review Committee’s final report. In August, the board directed Superintendent Dr. Michael McPherson to form the committee after a number of parents voiced support for a 10-point grading scale at School Board meetings.

The committee, made up of parents, students, teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators, began meeting in October. Committee members conducted research and looked at local, state and national data. The report noted a number of surrounding school districts have recently adopted a 10-point grading scale, including Surry, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

As part of its research, the Grading Scale Review Committee conducted a survey of parents, students and school employees.

A majority of responding school employees —nearly 67 percent — supports the change to a 10-point grading scale.

Committee member Judy Morin, speaking independently from the committee, said some parents would like to see the grading scale changed retroactively to the beginning of the school year or even to their children’s freshman year, if the board decides to change it.

In the late 1970s, Isle of Wight schools had a 10-point grading scale. In 1979, the current grading scale was adopted. Under the current scale, a grade of 94 to 100 is an A, 86 to 93 is a B, 78-85 is a C and 70-77 is a D.

Grumbling said the parents pushing for a 10-point grading scale want to level the playing field and are not trying to “dumb down” the schools. He said a statewide uniform grading scale would’ve resolved the problem.

“It just seems awfully silly that the state wouldn’t just come in and do it,” he said.

The School Board in neighboring Suffolk voted Thursday to implement a 10-point grading scale effective next school year. Suffolk’s current grading scale is identical to Isle of Wight’s.