Mother: Chesterfield schools’ grading scale is unfair

Posted at 6:46 PM, Dec 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-11 07:43:52-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- When Jamie Stewart’s family moved to Chesterfield County from Pennsylvania in 2005, Stewart noticed an immediate change in her children’s grades, even though they were getting the same test scores.

“Within just one quarter, their grades dropped,” Stewart says.

When she realized the county’s 6-point grading scale was the reason, Stewart became a catalyst for change. She started writing letters to the school district and to the Chesterfield County Observer.

As a result, Chesterfield County Schools asked Stewart to sit on the district’s grading policy committee. The district is also considering implementing a 10-point grading scale. Surveys went out to Chesterfield County parents last week.

Stewart’s research reveals that of the 10 largest school districts in the state of Virginia, a 10-point grading scale is used in every district, with the exception of Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond city schools.

Henrico County uses a 7-point scale, while Richmond uses an 8-point grading system.

Loudoun County was the first district in Virginia to implement the 10-point grading scale in 2009. The change was prompted by a 2008 study in Fairfax County that showed 55% of colleges nationwide do not recalculate a student’s grades based on their district’s grading scale.

Stewart says the inequity is simply not fair to students.

“Oh absolutely,” Stewart argues. “It puts our kids at a disadvantage, no doubt, because they are not on a level playing field.”

However, former Chesterfield County School Superintendent Bill Bosher says he doesn’t see a need for change.

Bosher, a current education and policy professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, says teachers and students adapt to grading scales.

“It really doesn’t matter. The number of A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s or F’s is not likely to change if you open the grading scale from a 5-point scale to a 10-point grading scale.”

Bosher also says universities and colleges use different algorithms when considering student admissions.

Stewart disagrees.

She says 5,000 Chesterfield County students will graduate each year with a less competitive transcript if the grading scale doesn’t change.

“Just to maintain the status quo, simply to maintain the status quo, doesn’t seem to provide any benefit to our kids.”
Stewart says.

A potential change to Chesterfield’s grading scale would not go into effect until 2014.