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SACS approves new grading scale

District will replace Valedictorians and Saultatorians after 2018 graduating class

Randy Spieth - FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - After years of research and debate, students at Southwest Allen County Schools will follow a new grading scale starting next school year. At Tuesday night's board meeting, SACS officials unanimously approved to switch to the traditional plus/minus grading scale.

The decision comes after years of discussion, according to SACS Superintendent Dr. Phil Downs, who said parents first brought up the idea back in 2011.

"The scale we have right now was based upon having a high standard and helping kids achieve a high standard," Downs told NewsChannel 15.

The district had a the scale set to any grade at a 95 percent or higher would receive an A, a 92 to 94 percent would get an A-, a B+ was between an 89 and 91 percent.

Starting the 2015-2016 school year, an A will be any grade 93 percent or higher. An A- is between a 90 and 92 percent.

The change applies only to middle school and high school students.

"In 2011, we had some parents come to us and share some information that they had found while researching colleges for their students," said Downs. "They compared Homestead's grading scale to some colleges and found an inequity."

While there weren't more than a handful of parents at Tuesday's meeting, Downs said plenty of parents had shown up at previous meetings to show support for a change in the system.

"The scale we have now basically reflects what colleges use," said Downs. "What we have now is in line with the state and is a more even playing field for our students. Most universities run on the same kind of scale, the 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 scale. We wanted to make sure what we were doing was easy to compare and set our kids up to be successful."

Board members and Homestead High School officials had said that the changes are not made in schools because they are popular, but are made in the best interest of students and learning.

"From what I understand from other high schools, this definitely levels the playing field," Karen Kirby, a mother of two students in the district, said. "Most of the high school students are taking college courses, and those have the collegiate scale. In the current system, you could have an A- on the college class, but on the high school transcript it would show up as a B or B+. It doesn't make sense."

The district decided to not make the change retroactive, which would have allowed students' previous grades to be looked at and changed to fit the new scale.

In the final weeks and months of the current school year, a study group will be formed to look at the district's grade weighing system which impacts only Advanced Placement courses. Possible changes could be made to incentivize student to take higher level courses across throughout high school.

In addition to the grading scale change, the district also approved eliminating the designations of Valedictorian and Salutatorian after the 2018 class. Instead, the district will honor students based on their performance as Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude.

The following shows the breakdown:

  • Cum Laude might be 3.60 to 3.69 GPA (or 10.80 on the 12.0 scale)
  • Magna Cum Laude might be 3.70 to 3.89 GPA (or 11.10 on the 12.0 scale)
  • Summa Cum Laude might be 3.90 to 4.00 GPA (or 11.70 on the 12.0 scale)

"I think it's redefining competition," said Downs. "One of the things we consistently hear from businesses is they want employees who work together to reach goals. To us, this seems like an easy target that has relevance for a group of kids. Students should work together to get better and to make each other better. It's certainly something we want to see rather than turn it into individuals fighting and clawing for one spot, why don't we all work together and get all of us over that hurdle and maybe even higher than what we thought we could have done on our own."


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