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District proposal would alter grading scale

[4/16/04]For students enrolled in advanced courses at local public high schools, making the grade may be easier if a proposal to change the grading scale is approved by Vicksburg Warren School District board members.

“I remembered when I was a student at Warren Central High School, taking advanced placement classes, and thought if I made a C it was the same thing as an A in regular classes,” said Alex Baylot, a parent of three children enrolled in the VWSD and whose concerns prompted administrators to look into the issue. “A large percentage of the students and parents I’ve talked to have the same perception.

“I wanted the school system to understand how some students and parents aren’t familiar with college and university grading systems.”

Prompted by a letter from Baylot, Superintendent James Price and administrators brainstormed to find a solution.

The current grade point average at the district’s two high schools, Vicksburg High and Warren Central, is determined by a 6-point scale.

Currently, making an A in an Advanced Placement course, the highest academic program in the district, is counted as 6 grade points; an A in an Honors course is 5 grade points; and an A in a regular course is 4.

This means that a student enrolled in all AP courses who makes straight A’s could have a 6.0.

The problem is that colleges and universities use a 4-point scale, and any grades that reflect a higher GPA are reverted to a 4.0-scale, Price said.

For example, if a VWSD student makes a C in an advanced placement course, he receives points equivalent to an A in a regular course. But, Price said, colleges recognize the C on a 4-point scale and give the student a 2.0.

“The real issue is this: students in advanced placement classes believe that a C is the equivalent of an A in regular classes, and the way that we’re weighting the grades supports that belief,” Price said. “That’s fine, until that student goes to college. Colleges and universities don’t recognize our 6-point system. They only recognize a 4-point system.

Consequently, when their transcripts are sent to colleges and universities, that weighting is removed.”

To combat this problem, Price is suggesting moving all courses to a 4-point system and changing the grading scale.

Currently, an A is any score between 93 and 100 for AP, Honors and regular courses. Under the proposal, an A would be a 90-100 in an AP course and 92-100 in Honors. The scale for regular courses would remain the same.

Of the 994 students enrolled at Vicksburg High School, 477 are in Honors or Advanced Placement courses; while 454 of the 955 students at Warren Central High School are enrolled in the courses.

A student’s class rank is currently determined by the 6-point scale, and would remain that way, Price said.

The proposal will go before the five members of the board of trustees at their meeting Thursday, a time for which had not been decided.