Many Mississippi schools changing grading system

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -  Teachers in Ocean Springs have changed the way they grade homework, class assignments, and quizzes. The school district is among many in Mississippi that have adopted a different grading scale.

"Absolutely, this will helps a lot of kids in Ocean Springs," said Ocean Springs School Superintendent Dr. Robert Hirsch.

This is the traditional grading system:

A:  93 - 100
   B:  85 - 92
   C: 75 - 84
   D: 70 - 74
   F: 69 and below

Under the newly adopted Ten-Point Grading Scale, students who make a 90 can still earn an 'A'.

A:  90 - 100
   B:  80 - 89 
   C:  70 - 79
   D:  60 - 69
   F:  59 and below

Hirsch points out that schools in many other states, even other countries, have been using the ten-point system.  He says it's about fairness and the change will put Mississippi students on an even playing field.

"We have been putting Mississippi students at a disadvantage on the scholarship front," Hirsch said. "If our kid has a 90 and gets a B, and a Florida or Alabama student has a 90 and they get an A, who graduates with a higher GPA?  Who looks better on a scholarship application?"

"I think it creates some complacency, because you're not striving to reach that higher mark," said Pascagoula School Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich.

The Pascagoula School District chose not to change its grading scale.  The superintendent says schools should strive for excellence, not lower standards.

"The part that I'm most concerned with is, I don't think you can raise performance levels by lowering the standards that you have," said Rodolfich.  "And in our district, the philosophy is to maintain that 'A' level performance in the traditional manner."

Hirsch disagrees.  He says the grade change doesn't eliminate the expectation for excellence.

"Mississippi has truly heightened expectations, rigor, the number of test to graduate, etc.," he said. "I think this creates more of a balance to help our students."

Questions have also been raised about whether the GPA adjustment was made to help athletes compete for scholarships.

"I think it does help you keep some athletes eligible," said Rodolfich. "But in our case, we typically have 27 scholar athlete teams per year between our two high schools.  Our football team currently has 22 students who have straight A's on it."

"It's all scholarships," Hirsch said. "This will help kids with academic scholarships, band scholarships, theatre scholarships.  It really doesn't matter.  I really think the 10-point scale will help more kids on academic scholarships than athletic scholarships."

Besides Pascagoula, school districts in Pass Christian, Petal, and Gulfport have not changed their grading systems.

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