New grading scale adopted by Mehlville with a 7-0 vote
By MIKE ANTHONY
The adoption of a new 10-point grading scale by the Mehlville Board of Education does not mean the school district is lowering its academic standards, according to South Area Superintendent Tim Ricker.
The school board voted unanimously last week to adopt the new grading scale, which had been recommended by a 42-member committee comprised of students, parents, teachers and administrators.
Effective with the 2003-2004 school year, the district's grading scale will be: A — 90 percent to 100 percent, Outstanding Achievement; B — 80 percent to 89 percent, Above Average Achievement; C — 70 percent to 79 percent, Average Achieve-ment; D — 60 percent to 69 percent, Below Average Achievement; and F — 0 percent to 59 percent, Unsatisfactory Achievement.
The current grading scale is: A — 92 percent to 100 percent, Outstanding Achieve-ment; B — 83 percent to 91 percent, Above Average Achievement; C — 74 percent to 82 percent, Average Achievement; D — 65 percent to 73 percent, Below Average Achievement; and F — 0 percent to 64 percent, Unsatisfactory Achievement.
Connie Hurst, assistant superintendent for curriculum and staff development, and members of the Grading Scale Review Committee presented the committee's recommendations to the board May 12.
During the presentation, committee members repeatedly emphasized the issue of fairness, noting that Mehlville's current grading scale is far more stringent than the ones used by surrounding school districts.
Randy Howe, a parent who served on the committee, said, "... Not to get the cart before the horse, but it was unanimous. Consensus is not accurate. It was unanimous that we felt after reviewing everything and studying it that this change should be made.''
Committee members reviewed the grading scales of other schools districts in the area. "And as you can see, we hold our students, in many cases, to a higher standard,'' Howe said, noting that Mehlville's current scale "puts our kids at a disadvantage. I'm on my last one. This is not going to help my kid. But you do need to help the rest of the kids who are in this district because they are operating at a disadvantage.''
Two students who served on the committee, Amanda Cartee and Andrew Shin, also emphasized the issue of fairness in recommending the board adopt the 10-point grading scale.
"This proposed revised grading scale would benefit all students in the Mehlville School District and would act as a motivating agent, especially for average and below-average students,'' said Cartee, a sophomore at Mehlville Senior High.
The new grading scale would allow Mehlville students "to fairly compete for scholarships with other high school students statewide,'' she added.
Earlier this year, the school board re-quested a committee be convened to review and evaluate the district's current grading scale. The scope of the committee's review did not include the topic of weighted grades.
But Hurst told the board that committee members recommended that the issue of weighted grades for advanced classes be studied by another committee as well as the issue of establishing uniform valedictorian criteria for the district's two high schools. Both topics came up "repeatedly'' during the committee's deliberations on the grading scale issue, she noted.
During an interview with the Call, South Area Superintendent Tim Ricker also emphasized that fairness is the key to the new grading scale.
"And really when they say fairness, what they're thinking is their ability to compete with other students from other school districts for college-entrance scholarships and other opportunities past high school because our grading scale was more stringent than most of the grading schools in the metropolitan area,'' said Ricker, who will become superintendent July 1 when current Superintendent John Cary retires.
But the change in the grading scale does not mean Mehlville is lowering its academic standards, Ricker emphasized.
"The original reason for changing the grading scale ... was to indicate that we had higher standards academically — not than other school districts. We just had high academic standards that we felt our students should attain,'' he said. "And in moving back to this grading scale that was proposed and accepted, we still want people to understand that our curriculum is set for high levels of academic achievement as well and we're not lowering our standards for what we expect students to learn.
"We're just changing the reporting style for the grades when they do actually evaluate students and report them ...,'' he added.