Franklin superintendent alters grading scale

Published 11:40 am Saturday, September 19, 2015

At Thursday night’s school board meeting, the new 10-point grading scale that was voted on for implementation into the school system back in February was discussed.

It was brought to the attention of the school board that Superintendent Dr. Willie Bell had retroactively gone through and changed the grades of the students to now meet the new grading scale. Meaning that students had their grades changed starting with freshman year, even the rising seniors. This made every student in the school have a higher grade point average.

School Board member Nancy Godwin wanted to know how Bell could retroactively change the previous grades of the students because that is not what the school board had voted on.

Bob Holt, another school board member, chimed in and said, “I received many phone calls about this. We said the starting date for the new grading scale would be Sept. 8, 2015. There was no mention in the policy of a retroactive change when we voted on this. I don’t think the VDOE [Virginia Department of Education] would allow us to go back and do a retroactive policy change.

“We’re hurting the teachers because if a teacher gave a student a 92 ‘B’ on the seven point grade scale, and we are now saying that is an ‘A’, we are hurting the teacher’s integrity I think,” he continued. “No school division has done the retroactive grade point change.”

Bell replied by saying that one school in the region has done the retroactive change, Henrico County, for the 2014-2015 school year in Region 1.

“Nothing in the policy denies the superintendent of doing a retro change,” Bell said. “Really the board doesn’t have to approve a retro change because it is an operations, the policy is a 10 point grading scale.”

Andrea Hall-Leonard then asked about the minutes of the meeting that the grading scale change was voted on and Holt replied that the only thing the minutes say is that the board passed the 10 point grade scale with the aforementioned effective date.

Bell went on to say that his reason for doing a retroactive change in the grades was because without it, the students in Franklin High would not be on the same playing field as the other students in different schools.

“Colleges only look at the bottom line, the GPA. They no longer look at SOL and SAT scores,” he added.

The board then decided that they need to put on the agenda to have further discussion of what the difference between policy and operational changes are. Since the policy change has already been voted on, the board asked that Bell write up how he made the retroactive changes to the grades and for him to bring that to the next meeting.