Mt. Vernon Register-News

May 21, 2014

MVTHS tables scale change

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — School board members say they need more information before they can vote on a proposal to alter the grading scale for Mt. Vernon Township High School.

The issue arose at Monday night’s meeting of the MVTHS Board of Education, but the matter was tabled after a spirited discussion.

At the meeting, Principal Wes Olson presented a recommendation to change the district’s current “modified” grading scale to the more traditional scale where a score of 90 to 100 equals an A grade. The current MVTHS scale awards an A for a score of 92 to 100.

“We feel that it will help our kids compete better as far as post-secondary is concerned — compete for college entrance, compete for scholarships,” Olson said.

But the topic provoked many questions from school board members. Board President Carl Miller expressed concern that changing the grading scale would amount to lowering standards.

“My thing is kids won’t have to work as hard to get an A now as what they would have had to in the past,” Miller said. “That kind of cuts down, I think, on the desire to get a higher grade. It’s easier.”

Olson responded there is “intense competition” for students seeking to attend post-secondary schools.

Also, the classroom grade is now a “pretty small piece of the picture” in terms of assessing student learning, he said. Nowadays, students are assessed in many different ways, Olson said.

Assistant Principal Rob Pipher added changing the scale would bring MVTHS in line with Rend Lake College’s grading system. This is important because MVTHS offers dual credit college courses through RLC.

Pipher said there have been situations where an MVTHS student earned an A for a 90 percent score in an RLC dual credit course, but the grade showed up as a B on their high school transcript.

“That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” Pipher said. “It matches our grade scale up to Rend Lake, who we’re doing dual credit through, so that’s a big component too.”

Another factor for school board members seeking to table the measure was a need for more information. Specifically, they wanted to know what other school districts across the state are doing in terms of grading.

Since the beginning of the year, MVTHS faculty have been investigating the grading scale issue. As part of this, a survey was conducted of 19 area schools in Southern Illinois and the Metro East area.

The survey found that about 70 percent of the schools in question have the traditional grade scale, Olson said.

However, school board members asked Olson to broaden the scope of the survey to find out what schools are doing in places like Champaign, Bloomington, Quincy, Chicago and elsewhere.

“I know you’ve made the comparison certainly to Southern Illinois and our area, (but) how is this nationwide?” said school board member Norma Fairchild.

The current MVTHS grade scale is: A = 92-100, B = 83-91, C = 74-82, D = 65-73, and E = 64 and below.

The traditional scale is: A = 90-100, B = 80-89, C = 70-79, D = 60-69, and E = 59 and below.

No action was taken Monday on the grading scale proposal. Olson said the issue will likely come up again at next month’s board meeting.