This week, the Portsmouth School Department Grade Scale Committee released its final report.
The committee was formed to study the current Portsmouth High School grade scale and to make a recommendation as to whether staying with the current grade scale or altering it would be to the benefit of all PHS students in terms of maintaining rigorous standards of learning, promoting post-secondary success and addressing the needs of the community.
The primary concerns raised regarding the district’s current 7-point grading scale relate to the college admissions process and scholarship access, as well as a perception of increased stress among the student body.
The assumption underlying these concerns is that the district’s current grading scale puts students at a disadvantage for college acceptance and academic merit scholarships when compared to students from a school with a 10-point grade scale.
To make a determination as to whether the district should stay with their current scale or alter it, the committee conducted several surveys: the higher ed survey, school staff survey and NH high school survey. The committee also researched data on grades and SAT scores and found no evidence the PHS students receive lower grades and thus have lower GPA’s compared to comparable schools using a 10-point scale.
- The current grading scale is not tied to student success.
- The 7-point scale does not seem to restrict the number of A’s and B’s received by PHS students, but at the same time, the number of A’s and B’s earned varies considerably teacher by teacher. It is impossible to play out every individual scenario of teacher and admissions office, so the findings are inconclusive on that issue.
- Data collected suggests a need to further the teacher conversations around grading practices.
— The staff survey identified an interest on the part of many teachers for greater consistency in grading.
- Moving to a 10-point scale does not necessarily mean students will automatically earn higher grades.
— In fact, it would be fair to suggest that given the data collected by the committee and the ongoing discussions about grading practices, there would likely be the same distribution of grades and any shift in that distribution would be more likely a factor of changes in practices to establish greater consistency.
- The district will consider a new grad scale (see above photo) that has a 10-point range for A’s, B’s, and C’s while also maintaining a high standard for passing.
- Both the weighted and unweighted GPA be displayed on students’ transcripts.
- Give students have greater access to their GPA calculations.
To view the full report, click here.