In grading, the plus and minus count

In grading, the plus and minus count

The difference between an A+ and an A- is night and day. From 70% to 80%, from 80% to 90%, and most of all from 90% to 100% there is a gap that proves survival of the fittest and shows who really excels.

Most people, myself included, can think of someone who slides by with that “on the border” grade for almost every class they are in. With a whole 10% within each letter grade, students who strive for that A+ should be rewarded.

The solution to holding students accountable for “sliding by” is to switch to a 12-point grading system. This will allow students who are truly excelling to be rewarded for their effort and have it be reflected by a more accurate GPA.

“I believe that if someone went through a math class with a 99%, no one can argue that they did better than someone who squeaked by with a 90%,” math teacher Danielle Pippert said. However, when looking at their GPA, it seems that both students have  succeeded equally.

Not only will a 12-point grading system be rewarding for students who really push themselves academically, but the hope is also that it will be a motivator when finals come around.

“I think it really helps put that little pressure on (students) to be studying for final exams [along with] your test and quizzes because you’re always trying to just raise your grade that little bit so the final exam won’t drop you down,” Pippert said.

As of right now, when it comes to finals, most kids will only calculate how much they need to get on the final to just barely maintain their grade. We are all guilty of it – some teachers even show us how to do the calculations – but this does not mean that we should only go for the lowest grade possible.

“If you have a B, you should be striving for the highest B,” Pippert said.

Especially in the aspect of preparation for college, it should not be OK for students in high school to be sliding by with on the border grades and be receiving the same credit for students working for top end of the spectrum.

“I don’t think our kids are learning really how to prepare for quizzes and tests and final exams because they don’t have that little extra umph if my GPA will drop,” Pippert said.

Changing to a 12 point grading system would also improve class rank. As of right now, there are dozens of kids who have 4.0’s and they all are told that they ranked in the very top percent of their class, which happens to be inaccurate. If you have consistent 90%’s in every class then you should not have the same rank as someone with constant 99%’s.

“There could be 20 valedictorians all because they have this 4.0 and you could look at them standing up there going that kid’s only a 90%er and that kid is a 99%er,” Pippert said. “Sorry, but the person with the higher grade should be ranked higher.”

Switching to the 12 point grading system has been a conversation in the past. “It has been talked about,” Pippert said. “It was brought up several years ago by the high school staff, it went to the school board, and it didn’t get any further.”

The grading committee has also played a roll in the decision.

“There has been a lot of discussion about it,” science teacher and member of the grading committee, Brad Jacobson said. “We are swung both ways.”

A factor that may have played a part in swaying the decision is that a stricter scale may bring more stress and focus on GPA and not the actual learning itself. Although GPA is important and reflects how you are as a student, nothing can top the learning and knowledge gained, even if you don’t earn a perfect score in the class.

“We started as a new group on this grading committee looking at [the grading scale] and decided there are bigger fish we have to find before we start talking about a 12 point grading system,” Jacobson said.

The fact of the matter is that if students can’t motivate themselves to strive to do their best, then maybe a little pressure on their “perfect” GPA will do the trick.


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