Charles County Public Schools propose changes to grade scale

La Plata, MD - Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) could be seeing a major change regarding what constitutes an “F” grade at the middle and high school levels. Currently, there are inconsistencies surrounding what constitutes a failing grade throughout the county. While it appears that most schools currently allow students to get anywhere from a 0-59 percent grade, some schools have moved towards guaranteeing students no less than a 50 percent grade. More clearly put, any student that earns a grade below 50 percent will automatically be rounded up to a 50 percent.

There now is a strong push being made to ensure that all middle and high schools in the county implement a uniform grading scale change towards the 50-59 percent model.

Back on Sept. 11, the Charles County Board of Education (CCBOE) was advised by Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein, and staff members as to what some of the advantages and disadvantages the change would bring.

Some suggestions have pushed for the first three academic quarters implement a 50-59 percent scale, while leaving the last quarter with the typical 0-59 percent scale.

“Using 50-59 creates a climate of hope,”Hollstein stated. The clearest point she made was that, “a student should never reach a place where there is no point in doing any more work because failure is inevitable.”

Additional staff members cited examples of “struggling learners” who were able to pass only as a result of the 50-59 percent model.

“Sometimes there is a hiccup in the first three quarters,” Westlake Principal Diane Roberts stated. “If we can’t work for the end goal of passing that class, that student will give up and probably drop out.”

However, some opponents of the change cited major problems with changing the scale. The changes not only can decrease harder working student’s motivation, but it can also lead to lower academic standards and grade inflation.

Ultimately, the CCBOE wanted to seek out more information regarding the change before making up their minds. The board put out a survey regarding the changes in hopes of getting the honest opinion from the community.

Questions asked by the survey appeared to hold some bias with regards to a support of the 50-59 percent model. Questions asked include discussing the importance of a consistent grading system, questioning the fairness of “a failing grade (F) [having] a 60-point spread while the range for grades A, B, C and D is 10 points,” and asking if grading practices “should penalize student behavior.”

As of Oct. 9, the survey on the Charles County Board of Education website had already received over 1,000 responses. The survey will be closed Oct. 15.

Additionally, the CCBOE has tentatively scheduled a public "town hall meeting" regarding the grading changes for 6 p.m. on Oct. 22.

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