For as long as assistant superintendent Dr. Matt McKinley can remember, a test score between 92 and 100 percent has equaled an “A” under Seneca Valley’s 8-point grading scale.
An 83- to 91-percent score falls in the “B” range, while a 74-percent to 82-percent score is considered a “C.” Anything below 65 percent is failing.
That may change.
On Monday, Seneca Valley officials proposed switching to a 10-point grading system. If approved, test scores and grades from 90 to 100 percent would be considered an “A,” while a “B” grade would accompany an 80- to 89-percent score. A “C” grade would be awarded for scores between 70 and 79 percent. Anything below 60 percent would be failing.
McKinley said the measure, if approved by the school board, would not affect courses with weighted grades.
He said the district began to explore the possibility of changing its grading system after noting many neighboring school districts—including Quaker Valley, North Allegheny, Mars and Pine-Richland—use a 10-point grading scale.
He said the district wants Seneca Valley students to be on a level playing field with pupils from other schools when it comes to grading. Changing the system also could allow SV students to be more competitive when applying to college or for academic or athletic scholarships.
“If changing the grading scale can do that, that’s something we can’t ignore,” he said.
He assured officials that changing the grading system would not affect the rigor of the classes offered at the district.
While Seneca Valley originally adopted the 8-point system in the hopes of pushing students harder to receive good grades, recent research by the district showed grades achieved under the 10-point system also are a motivator for students.
Students also said they favored a 10-point systems when surveyed by a committee of parents, teachers and district officials formed to research the topic, McKinley said.
Many juniors and seniors taking “argument” classes at Seneca Valley opined in favor of the 10-point system as part of a class project, he added. Parents also have questioned why the district maintains an 8-point system, he said.
“I regularly get calls on that issue,” he said.
Seneca Valley will give more presentations about the system to the board throughout February and March. If all goes according to plan, the board could approve the 10-point grading scale in April, McKinley said.
“We do not take this decision lightly,” he said.
If approved, the new system would be in place in time for the 2012-13 school year.