The school system of St. Clair County is operating under their first year of a new grading policy for the 2020-2021 term.
Under the new system, students’ grades are based off a “percentage” scale rather than a “points” scale.
According to Superintendent Dr. Mike Howard, they are required by law to come up with a uniform grading policy for all schools in the county to abide by. One advantage of switching to a percentage scale is that it guarantees uniform grading across the district.
Howard says that there was a need to improve the grading policy used in the school system to better prepare kids for college and to ensure fairness across the school system.
Under the previous system, one teacher could grade a student out of 4,000 points and another teacher could grade out of 2,000 points. The student for the first teacher would have more room for error while a student for teacher two would have less room for error. One teacher could put emphasis on homework, while another could put emphasis on testing.
“It led to inconsistency,” Howard said. “Some had it easier, some had it harder.”
The school board also believes the new system will better prepare students for college.
Colleges were operating off a percentage grading scale while St. Clair County was still using the points system. Some former students said high school was too easy, and didn’t prepare them for the level of intensity of college.
The new percentage system mirrors what is seen in other school districts throughout the state and also at universities.
According to Howard, it is now tougher to receive A’s and B’s. As with any new system, it can take some time to adjust.
However, students receiving these high grades on the old system are receiving similar grades on the new system. Howard says this is due to hard work.
“There are some growing pains, but everyone is starting to understand,” Howard said. “People are moving forward and adjusting to this system.”
The new system divides the percentages into three groups: gold, silver and bronze. A student’s grade is determined by their score in each percentage and also by the teacher’s frequency of usage of the three groups.
Howard says he has received positive and negative feedback about the new grading system. However, he wants people to allow the process to work.
Eventually, the school board will also take a look at any adjustments that need to be made to the new system. While the system cannot be removed, the percentages can be altered