This fall, an 'A' is 93-100 all over W.Va.

June 01, 2003|By CANDICE BOSELY

When students return to school this fall, some changes will be apparent, including a new, universal grading scale.

Jefferson County will be especially affected, because schools there will no longer be able to use a 10-point grading scale.

Under a new policy approved and passed by the state Board of Education, grades that will be used are: A, 93-100; B, 85-92; C, 75-84; D, 65-74; and F, 64 and below.

Berkeley County will need to make slight adjustments to its grading scale to comply with the new one. Currently, an A is 94 to 100, a B is 85 to 93, a C is 72 to 84, a D is 65 to 71 and an F is 64 and below.

"This puts things on a level playing field," said Berkeley County Deputy Superintendent Frank Aliveto.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent R. Steven Nichols had asked state officials to allow the county to keep its 10-point scale. With surrounding counties in other states using a 10-point scale, Nichols said it was only fair it be used in Jefferson.


"I feel it (the universal scale) puts our young people at a disadvantage," he said. "I think it was short-sighted on the part of the state."

Nichols said he would not be surprised if the scale was changed again.

"You will find a 10-point scale to be the norm rather than the exception," he said.

Also next fall, students in Berkeley County could find that more challenging courses have weighted grades, Aliveto said.

State officials left the question of whether to leave the issue of weighted grades up to each county.

Rigorous core classes, such as advanced placement classes, calculus, pre-calculus and other similar courses could be weighted, Aliveto said.

A former teacher and principal, Aliveto has said he does not feel weighted grades are necessary. However, he said they can increase a student's score on the SAT.

He fears that some students might choose not to take more difficult classes, worried that their grade point average might dip below what is acceptable to obtain a PROMISE Scholarship.

Implemented by Gov. Bob Wise, PROMISE scholarships pay the tuition and fees for students who attend a public state college or university. A comparable amount is paid to students who wish to attend a private in-state college.

To get a PROMISE scholarship, a student must maintain a 3.0 GPA in high school and score either a 21 on the ACT or 1,000 combined on the SAT.

This year, 4,100 students were eligible for the scholarship. Encouraging students to attend in-state schools is important, because 73 percent of those who do, remain in West Virginia, Wise said.

Jefferson County, one of 22 counties in the state to have weighted grades, currently issues them only in advanced placement courses.

Nichols stressed that weighted grades are really only used internally to determine the rank of a student within his or her class. Most colleges and universities convert weighted grades to a 4.0 scale for admission and financial aid purposes.

Another change that students will see next year are five optional "instructional support and enhancement days." Demanded by state officials, they replace the 10 Faculty Senate/early dismissal days used this year.

Neither lunch nor transportation will be provided, and students do not have to attend school on those days, which are part of the 180-day school calendar. In Berkeley, one is scheduled for every other month.

On those days, the first two hours are aimed toward students. They can do makeup work, work on science projects or in computer or science labs, participate in extra credit activities or receive tutoring. Also, teachers can schedule meetings with parents, Aliveto said.

"I think there's a lot of things that schools are going to come up with," Aliveto said.

Students must be out of school by 10 a.m. After students leave, a two-hour Faculty Senate meeting will be held, followed by staff development or school business activities.

"It's probably a good idea," Aliveto said. "I think it has some merit."

Nichols was leery of the idea, saying he worries few students will come to school.

"I don't see it as doing a whole bunch for us," he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles