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Parents ask Berkeley school board to change grading system

May 21, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Parents of students who attend Berkeley County high schools want the grading system changed, and one parent asked the Berkeley County Board of Education on Monday to form a committee to come up with a plan to change the system.

Juliet Haislip, who has children that attend Musselman High School, acted as the voice for about 30 other parents concerned about the inequitable grading system as compared to other schools around the country.

Currently, Berkeley County has a non-weighted system which caps a grade-point average at 4.0, while Jefferson County schools are in a weighted system which allows a grade point average to reach 5.0.

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Using a 5.0 scale, students receive five points for an A, four points for a B, and 3 points for a C. A student in a weighted system who receives a B in a class will get four points, while a student in a non-weighted system will receive only three points.

There is also a 10-point and 7-point grading scale. In a county using a 10-point scale, an A is 90 percent while in a 7-point scale an A is 93 percent.

"With more and more students competing for limited scholarship money and acceptances into schools, the admissions offices must have a first line of criterion when weeding out prospective students," Haislip said. She added students face a disadvantage because of the "aggressive grading scale combined with the fact that no extra weight is given for Advanced, Honors or Advanced Placement classes."

Haislip used the state's Promise Scholarship as an example of how the grading system is unfair to students who strive to challenge themselves by taking harder, advanced classes.

"Our own state's Promise Scholarship has come under fire recently for excluding students who did challenge themselves to take a more difficult curriculum and then stumbled or struggled and ended up with less than a 3.5 GPA.

"This same scholarship rewarded those students who chose to protect themselves and their GPAs as well as their parent's pocketbook by taking a lighter course load," Haislip said.

In order to qualify for the Promise Scholarship, a student must have a 3.0 grade-point average and obtain a 21 on the ACT, a standardized test.

There were about 240 students in the Eastern Panhandle, out of 3,200 statewide, who received the scholarship, which requires the recipient attend an in-state higher education institution.

Haislip proposed the board appoint a six-member committee comprised of two educators, two administrators and two parents who will research the issue and create a plan for reinstating weighted classes back into the Berkeley County school system.

"We won't turn a deaf ear to this," said William Queen, president of the board.

"We are looking into it. Our students are our biggest concern and we are attentive to the issue," he said.

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