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Education

The Fredericksburg City School Board voted on February 4 to change to a 10-point grading scale, effective September 1.

Here is how those GPAs will change with the new scale:
• The weighted GPA increases from 2.87 to 3.58
• The unweighted GPA increases from 2.42 to 3.21

The Free-Lance Star has the new city grading scale posted here: http://cdn.blogs.fredericksburg.com/citybeat/files/2013/02/DOC-14.pdf 

The change will not be applied retroactively to completed high school courses. However, some hope that James Monroe High School will include both percentage grades and letter grades on official transcripts, which will give students who took courses on the old scale a chance to demonstrate the percentages they earned in completed classes.

The new weighted scale still puts city students below Spotsylvania and Stafford County students, but above Fairfax County.

Rumors

There's been misinformation floating around that should be cleared up. Here are a few rumors and the correct positions for each:

Rumor: All teachers are against the grading scale change.
Fact: Teachers' opinions are mixed. There will always be resistance to any change, however there has been no strong opposition. Some teachers have seen the adverse impact the 6-point grading scale has had on students in the past few years and support the change. Others see it as more work for them to implement the change or are against it philosophically. This is not a controversial issue - it's about making a change that is in the best interest of all students.

Rumor: All advanced classes will be cancelled.
Fact: No one has proposed that advanced classes or any others be cancelled.

Rumor: Low achieving student GPAs will go up, but high achieving student GPAs will go down
Fact: See the GPA comparison to see how letter grades determined by the scale are applied to the percentage earned in the course. Many courses use state mandated multiple choice SOL and 9-weeks tests scored with data sheets. These tests, which produce a percentage score, can be a big part of a student's final grade in a course.

Rumor: Colleges "know" JMHS and evaluate our students accordingly. Some colleges recalculate JMHS's GPAs so they can compare them with students on a 10-point scale.
Fact: There are no percentage grades on JMHS's official transcripts, so there is no data available for colleges to recalculate grades, even if they had the time and resources to do so. The most competitive schools such as University of Virginia, VirginiaTech, and William & Mary have far more highly qualified applicants than they need to fill their freshman classes with top students. The students who are hurt the most by the current grading scale are those that achieve borderline percentage grades.

bTeachers award letter grades and the grading scale will not change the letter grade a student earns.
Fact: Since there is no standard grading methodology in city schools, this is speculative at best. It's possible that a teacher may award a letter grade and then apply a percentage score to support that letter grade, or a teacher may use some other method to assign grades. Regardless of how a teacher grades students, the 10-point grading scale is the standard at most other schools in Virginia.

Rumor: A change to a 10-point scale will lower JMHS's standards.
Fact: Changing the JMHS grading scale simply makes the students letter grades comparable to most other students in Virginia. School systems that have already made this change conducted studies that demonstrated the change was necessary to keep its students competitive with students from other school systems with 10-point scales.

GPA-Comparison2

Rumor: Colleges "know" JM and evaluate our students accordingly. Some colleges recalculate JM's GPAs so they can compare them with students on a 10 point scale.

Fact: There are no percentage grades on JM's official transcripts so there is no data available for colleges to recalculate grades, even if they had the time and resources to do so. The most competitive schools such as UVA, Tech, and William & Mary have far more highly qualified applicants than they need to fill their freshman classes with top students. The students who are hurt the most by the current grading scale are those who achieve borderline percentage grades.

Rumor: JM has a 3-tier weighting system so the grading scale

Fact: It's true JM has a 3-tier weighting system but as is illustrated in the GPA chart, this does not equalize the discrepancy in the grading scale. All school systems weight classes. Our weighting system does not equalize the discrepancy in the grading scale.

Rumor: Teachers award letter grades and the grading scale will not change the letter grade a student earns.

Fact: Since there is no standard grading methodology in the city schools, this is speculative at best. It's possible that a teacher may award a letter grade and then apply a percentage score to support that letter grade or a teacher may use some other method to assign grades. Regardless of how a teacher grades students, the 10 point grading scale is the standard at most other schools in Virginia.

Rumor: A change to a 10 point scale will lower JM's standards.

Fact: Changing the JM grading scale simply makes our students' letter grades comparable to most other students' in Virginia . School systems who have already made this change conducted studies that demonstrated the change was necessary to keep their students competitive with students from other school systems with 10 point scales. We don't give our sports opponents extra points before a game begins so why would we do this with academics?

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