Survey to grade new scale

Published 10:08 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

While building a new school and selecting a new superintendent have dominated the discussion at School Board meetings lately, one topic still managing to get attention is Suffolk’s grading sale.

Suffolk Public Schools has opened a survey on its website to allow parents to weigh in on whether it should change its current six-point grading scale.

Survey responsess must be submitted by Nov. 19, the end of parent-teacher conference day.

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All submissions are anonymous and contain no identifying information. A committee of parents, administrators, teachers and board members currently is studying and exploring other grade scales.

The committee is expected to make a recommendation at the Dec. 8 School Board meeting.

One parent advocated the change in an August board meeting.

“I’m tired of banging my head against the wall because my kids aren’t being rewarded for their hard work,” said Claudia Lee, mother of a high school student and a middle school student. Lee said the average grade point average at Virginia Tech this year is 3.9. Suffolk’s six-point scale makes it difficult for students to compete with students coming from systems that use a 10-point scale, she said.

“Colleges aren’t looking at percentages,” Lee said. “They’re looking at their [grade point average].”

At that same board meeting, board member Michael Debranski voiced his concern that the change could “open the door to inflating grades.”

The committee is considering a 10-point grading scale for letter grades of A, B, C and D, which would include ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ signs attached to a letter score. The ‘plus’ grades will be assigned an additional 0.3 value and the ‘minus’ grades will reflect a decrease in value of 0.3. For example, B+ for scores 89-87; B for scores 86-83; and B- for scores 82-80. The additional letter grades will be used when calculating a student’s overall grade point average.

The proposed scale, if adopted, would have the most impact on high school students because of associated changes to GPA calculation. However, middle school students who take credit-bearing courses would also be affected. At the elementary level, the primary impact would be the ability to earn both the plus and minus grades.

Another effect of the change would be the reassignment of letter grades and percentages.

The scale, for example, would change the lowest A grade from the current 94 percent to a 90 percent. Currently, any percentage between 100 and 94 percent constitutes an A. If the scale changes, a student would receive an A- for a grade of 90 percent. The lowest passing grade would change from a 70 to a 60.

To view frequently asked questions, more information or to take the survey, visit the school website at