by Gail Marsh
(Thursday, July 2) The grading scale for Harrison County middle and high school students who take honors and advanced placement classes will change next year because the county's school board elected to eliminate weighted grades.
"With this policy change we hope to encourage more and more students to take the more challenging courses," said Robert E. Kittle, Harrison County superintendent of schools.
Under the old policy, students who took courses like honors English and honors biology could earn a 4.5 or 5.0 grade point average for an "A". The idea was to give harder classes a higher grade point so students would be academically recognized for taking the advanced classes.
Under the new system, all classes will be graded equally. Students who take an advanced class will earn the normal 4.0 for an "A." The scale to earn an "A'' will be dropped from 93 to 100 to 90 to 100. All regular classes will still be graded on a 93 to 100 scale for an "A.''
Many colleges don't recognize the weighted grade point averages above 4.0, which prompted the change, according to school officials.
The honor roll will now be graded as 4.0 for perfect, 3.5 to 3.99 for superior and 3.0 to 3.49 for the regular honor roll.
"We feel this is an equitable way to grade the weighted classes, but we still provide an incentive for students to take those harder courses," Kittle said.
The honor classes that students took before June 8, 1998 will still count in their overall grade point averages, allowing some students to still earn over a 4.0 grade point average.
The new policy is meant to make the grading system more equitable, according to Susan Collins, Harrison County schools administrator.
"We found that the old system actually penalized some of the students who took the hardest classes because they had more courses to average in.
The new system will allow students to tackle some of these courses without lowering their overall grade point average," she said.
The policy continues to call for three six-week grading periods per semester. The semester grade will be determined by using the three six-week grades and a semester examination grade.
Under the old policy, two "Bs" and two "Cs" meant a "B" average for the semester grade. A cumulative 2.5 grade point average was rounded up to a 3.0. The new policy means a student who gets two "Bs" and two "Cs" will get the "C," with no rounding up.
"This is part of the raising of our academic standards, so students will have to work hard for the whole semester and not set back because they have good grades for part of the grading period," Collins said.