Report says data suggests 7-point scale does not put students at disadvantage
by Susan O’Neill
KANELANDâ€”In a recent study, school administrators found that nearly 50 percent of the students at Kaneland High School have an A grade-point average. Add the B grades in, and nearly 75 percent of the students are above average.
The study was conducted as an initial step in response to feedback from a number of parents in the community who asked the administration to change the school’s grading scale to make it more in line with other schools in Kane County.
Some parents said that Kaneland’s 7-point grading scale put the Kaneland students at a disadvantage when they were compared with other students from schools with 10-point scales. This could hurt them when being considered for college admissions, scholarship awards and auto insurance discounts, parents said.
In a 10-point scale, students with a score of 92 receive an A; with Kaneland’s 7-point scale, students need a score of 93 to receive an A.
Administrators conducted an informal survey of other high schools in the Western Sun Conference and the soon-to-be Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference; five of the seven schools that responded used a 10-point scale. One school left it up to each department to use either a 7-point or a 10-point scale, and another used an 8-point scale.
The survey, which looked at grade-point averages during the 2008-09 school year, found that a greater percentage of Kaneland students had an A average than the overall average of 37 percent, even though a majority of the other schools used 10-point scales.
In addition, the survey also found that the schools with the higher average of A students did not necessarily correlate with the higher ACT scores.
Although Kaneland fell third on the list in terms of A averages, its average ACT score of 20.9 falls below the average of 22 when all seven schools are included.
â€œThe data shows there is a disconnect between grades earned and results when compared to performance,â€ board member Dianne Piazza said.
Administrators told the board on Monday that the initial data do not seem to support the suggestion that Kaneland’s grading scale puts the students at an unfair disadvantage.
Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick said that since the administration has not reviewed at the grading scale since it was changed 15 years ago, their recommendation was to take another look at it.He said that the study should take place in the context of the curriculum department’s original plan to study grading criteria, purposes and philosophy.
The School Board voted 5-2 in favor of this recommendation.
McCormick also recommended that it follow Kaneland’s current policy that establishing a grading system is the responsibility of the administration and professional staff, and not a board decision.
â€œThat’s why we have our curriculum directors and professional teaching personnel,â€ he said.
While some board members agreed that decisions about the grading system were better left to the professionals, others felt that decisions made internally would leave members of the community nowhere to go if they were still unhappy about the grading scale.
â€œWe had a petition that came to the board,â€ board member Deborah Grant said.
Parents brought a petition to the board in October 2009 with 703 signatures from parents that asked the board to evaluate the current grading system this school year. The petition asked the board to consider changing the grading scale to a 10-point system rather than the current 7-point scale.
â€œI want our students to have the same opportunities that every other student in Kane County has, and that is a 10-point scale,â€ Grant said.
Board member Cheryl Krauspe said that she did not feel it was the right time to change the scale.
Board members agreed to table the administration’s recommendation for a later time.