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Alphabet Rearrangement: Seneca Valley May Change the ABC’s of Grading Scale

Officials propose switching the eight-point grading scale to a 10-point version in order to become more competitive with neighboring schools.

For as long as assistant superintendent Dr. Matt McKinley can remember, a test score between 92 and 100 percent has equaled an “A” under 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.

Postulation February 07, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Classic example of a the spiral effect of bad decisions. One district decides to manipulate the grading system so its students applying to colleges appear to have done better academically than they really did, so other districts are forced to match. Why not just go with the numeric number instead of a letter grade to provide a more accurate representation of the grade earned?
SuzieQ February 07, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I think this is a good thing only because a majority of the other schools in the area are using it and it isn't fair for a kid at Seneca to get a 91% and have a B when other districts it would be an A. I think all schools in the country should be on a uniformed grading percentage point system!
Mary P February 07, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Seneca Valley should adopt a ten-point grading scale in order to provide fair comparatives of students from varying school districts, including our neighbors. On a current unofficial transcript, next to the class listing appears a letter grade,additionally, the transcript provides a current QPA & a cumulative QPA. A ten-point grading scale for Seneca Valley students should be initiated immediately!
Clint U February 07, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I was unaware that any schools had not already adopted the 10 point grading scale. So very surprised that this is even an issue or consideration.

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