Tipping the Scales

If the new grading scale policy passes, the A range will be significantly narrowed

In+an+era+of+serious+concern+about+student+stress%2C+an+alteration+to+the+grading+scale+could+prove+to+deter+students+from+taking+courses+that+are+beyond+their+abilities.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Tipping the Scales

In an era of serious concern about student stress, an alteration to the grading scale could prove to deter students from taking courses that are beyond their abilities.

In an era of serious concern about student stress, an alteration to the grading scale could prove to deter students from taking courses that are beyond their abilities.

photo by Samantha Solenday

In an era of serious concern about student stress, an alteration to the grading scale could prove to deter students from taking courses that are beyond their abilities.

photo by Samantha Solenday

photo by Samantha Solenday

In an era of serious concern about student stress, an alteration to the grading scale could prove to deter students from taking courses that are beyond their abilities.

Rin Swann, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






DISCLAIMER:  The dateline of this article might have been a dead giveaway… but in case you were expecting an actual news article, you are hereby on notice that the following is an April Fools’ prank.  There is absolutely nothing factual in this article.  The piece ran as a prank without this disclaimer from 8:30am until 10:00pm on April 1.  

******

The end of the third nine-weeks came with an influx of last-minute assignments and frantic pleas to teachers, as students desperately tried to reach an 89.5 in order to round up to an A for the grading period. But all of that may change soon.

Along with other measures to address concerns about student stress, North Allegheny is considering changing its grading scale so that a 95% and above will be considered the new standard for an A. If the measure wins approval, the entire grading scale will shift with it, so every grade will rise by 5 percent. The B range will span from 85% to 94% and so forth, rendering all scores 65% and below an E.

“At this time, we are simply considering all of our available options,” Assistant Director of Academic Performance Dana Owens said.  “The benefits of a narrowing of the grading scale in the A range are obvious, but we’re taking a close look at the costs before moving forward.”

Yet for many students and parents, an alteration to the grading scale seems far more extreme than any of the other district initiatives to address student stress.

It won’t stop me from taking APs.  It will just make me even more stressed to get an A.”

— Joe Bukharin, junior

“It’s hard to imagine a North Allegheny transcript without as many A’s,” junior Michael Balzary said.  “How could anyone think that this is a good thing?”

Nevertheless, according to multiple studies, changing an A to 95% and above may be even more helpful in achieving stress reduction.

“It’s never easy to introduce change,” Owens further explained, “but the job of a school district is to evaluate the benefits and costs of current practices and implement change when the research supports it.”

A recent study by the National Student Stress Association (NSSA) in conjunction with Intellectual Implementation in Schools (IIS) has shown that the current grading scale, widely used across the American educational system, encourages students to work beyond their limits and take classes they are not passionate about — only to improve their GPAs. According to the study, a shocking 87.7 percent of American students who take multiple AP classes receive an A between an 89.5 and a 91.

The study further explains that the “rounding up” of these grades encourages students to take more difficult classes and put in less work because they know that an 89.5 is ultimately no different from a 99.5 on their final transcripts.  Both scores simply read “A”.

Several other schools in PA have already made this change, including Glenbrook North High School and North Shore High School in the eastern half of the state — and both schools saw positive changes in student stress as kids willingly reduced the number of difficult classes on their schedules.

“The district recognizes that student stress is an issue we must address,” said NASH Principal Dr. Kreider. “While no final decisions have been made at this time, we do know that a change in the grading scale will likely maximize student potential and minimize stress levels.”

However, many students disagree with Kreider’s assessment.

“My stress levels will only go up if this policy is implemented,” said junior Joe Bukharin, who currently takes four AP classes and has scheduled six for next year. “It won’t stop me from taking APs.  It will just make me even more stressed to get an A.”

NASH AP teachers as well seem to have mixed feelings. “The majority of my students are constantly on the border with their grades,” said AP English teacher Mrs. Morris. “I don’t know if this would help their stress or just encourage them to drop the class.”

At Glenbrook North, however, AP Calc teacher Gordon Sumner has nothing but praise for his school board’s decision to implement the narrower A grade range.

“My enrollment dropped from 147 to 38 this year, the year the change took effect,” he said.  “The only kids who take my course are the ones who are meant to take it.  Plus, I no longer have to grade tests on weekends.”

Will NA follow the same path, or will student sentiment prevail?  Time will soon tell, as the district is planning to present its findings to the school board early this summer.