North Carolina High Schools Looking to 10-Point Grading Scale


North Carolina state education leaders are considering expanding a new grading scale which will make it easier for students to get higher grades.

Superintendents and families have lobbied for current high school students in the state to have the advantage of a 10-point grading system. T. Keung Hui, reporting for the Charlotte Observer, writes that this would reverse the original decision the state made to phase in the system over a period of years. In October, the State Board of Education voted to begin the 10-point grading system with the 2015-2016 school year’s freshman class.

Grade Current Scale New Scale
A 100-93 100-90
B 92-85 89-80
C 84-77 79-70
D 76-70 69-60
F Below 70 Below 60

Those opposed to the phase-in say it is unfair, since in some classes there are students at multiple grade levels, posing the possibility that classmates achieving the same numerical score could get a different letter grade which might affect athletic eligibility.

“In deference to the superintendents and to parents and others who asked that we make the 10-point scale effective for all students in ’15-’16, we decided to put it back on the State Board of Education agenda for reconsideration,” State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson said Friday.

The executive director of the N.C. School Superintendents Association stated that all 90 superintendents at the December conference were in favor of switching all high school students to the new system this fall.

The decision will affect the way GPA’s are calculated for transcripts and class ranking. Only a few states set the guidelines for high school grading scales and transcripts, and North Carolina is one of those states. One reason for the change is to level the playing field for college applicants who are competing with students who are graded on the 10-point system.

The Department of Public Instruction needs a decision by February in order to update the state’s PowerSchool information system and to give families a heads-up. The Sylva Herald‘s Quintin Ellison reported a statement from the superintendent:

“We need to drop the seven point scale in order to level the playing field in college applications,” Superintendent Mike Murray said this morning. “It’s inconsistent with other states, and our students are currently at an unfair disadvantage. I also think that we need to do it across the board — all at once — for it to be equitable.”

Local school boards may also make the change for elementary and middle schools. Murray is not ready to make the decision for Jackson County’s K-8 students but wants to include input from teachers and administration. He would ask the DART team (district data analysis) to lead the discussion.

Reema Khrais, in an October 2nd report for WUNC, NPR, wrote that only four states required school districts to adopt a 7-point scale.  One North Carolina student was so opposed to the 7-point scale that he wrote legislation to convince lawmakers to move away from it. Rebecca Garland, the state’s Chief Academic Officer, said that some teachers had expressed concerns about the wide range, explaining that students who consistently score 91 are performing quite differently from students who are consistently receiving 99.

Garland mitigated the issue by requiring that transcripts include number grades in order for institutions of higher education can better decipher how well students are performing in each course.

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