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Oak Creek-Franklin School Board grapples with grading scale changes

Six options now up for evaluation

Dec. 4, 2012

Oak Creek - The Oak Creek-Franklin School Board is now evaluating up to six grading scales in its effort to revamp the rules that dictate what makes an A, an F and everything in between.

Some parents have expressed concerns that it takes a higher percentage to achieve an A or B at the high school level than at the middle school, and that while 60 percent is passing in middle school, it's failing in high school. They say the difference makes the transition between grades more difficult, and could handicap grade-point averages.

Scales being considered

Option one is the do-nothing option: keep the current, separate scales at the middle and high schools.

Option two would implement the existing high school grading scale at the middle schools.

Neither of those garnered much support at the Nov. 26 School Board meeting, at which they were presented.

Parents seemed to like option three, implementing the existing middle school grading scale at the high school, whereas the board members seemed to prefer options four and five, both of which blend the two scales now in use and make 65 percent the minimum needed for a passing grade.

Under option four, most percentage scores would qualify for the base letter grade, such as A, and only a few would qualify for a plus or minus, such as A+ or A-. The fifth option would have three percentage points for each step of the letter grade - that is, 98, 99 and 100 percent would be an A+; 95, 96 and 97 percent would be an A; and 92, 93 and 94 percent would be an A-.

Discussions moved to a possible sixth option, adopting the middle school scale but raising the percentage needed to pass to 63 or 65 percent.

Decision needed by May

Superintendent Sara Burmeister said that she believed a blended scale would be the healthiest decision, adding, "I think it certainly is more helpful for students and parents to have it be the same. As the committee looks at different districts, most of them have a consistent grading scale for sixth through 12th grade."

School Board member Sheryl Cerniglia said she doubts there will be drastic changes in the number of scholarships received or college admissions due to a change in grading scale.

"When colleges look at scholarships they look at a blend of things, including class rank. They'll use a certain criteria to weed things down. I don't think you'll have more kids getting a scholarship because of the 10-point scale," she said.

The board must come to a consensus on a grading scale by May in order for students to remain eligible for certain state scholarships. The district also needs to come to a decision so they can put the new or same scale in the student handbook in time for next school year.

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