Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New grading system at RHS

The following information was emailed to parents by Principal Jack Lorenz. As a parent who has gone through 6 years of high school grades, I do think this will result in more accurate and consistent grades. I have some other thoughts, too, following Mr. Lorenz' letter:

[Email from Mr. Lorenz:]
We are in the process of implementing our Skyward student information system and Skyward Grade Book. In preparation for this implementation our faculty through the Curriculum Steering Committee examined the old grading patterns system and reached consensus on a revised grading system.

Parents and students have frequently requested that we include plus and minus grades for each quarter. Students, parents, and the Curriculum Steering Committee requested that we use a percentage grade to arrive at semester and yearlong grades. The system we have adopted provides students and parents with a more accurate picture of student achievement.

Since we are implementing these changes across all grades, the playing field is level and no one has an advantage over another student. The final grade in a semester course will be determined by averaging the two quarters with the mid-term counting no more than twenty (20%) per cent of the 2nd quarter guide. The final grade for a year long course will be the average of four (4) quarters with the final examination counting no more than twenty percent (20%) of the fourth quarter guide. Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

A 93–100
A - 90–92
B + 87–89
B 83–86
B - 80–82
C + 77–79
C 73–76
C - 70–72
D + 67–69
D 63–66
D - 60–62
E* 0–59

For example, a student who receives a 91 percent, 86 percent, 82 percent and 88 percent for quarter grades would have an average of 86.7 percent which would result in a B+ for this final grade. We are confident that this system of grading will yield a positive result for our students.

John A. Lorenz, Principal


I have spoken with some fellow RHS parents who were concerned about the implications of this mid-high-school-career change for some students. They are worried about how Ridgewood graduates' grades will appear to college admissions officials. In speaking with several administrators, I learned the following:

First, with the new system, GPAs are just as likely to go up slightly as they are to go down. In terms of individual grades, many students who would have received a B under the old system will now receive a B+.

In terms of how Ridgewood’s GPAs will look to college admissions offices, it’s hard to predict. Over the past 15-20 years, there have been as many as four grading systems at RHS and for each system I'm sure there was a contingency of parents/teachers who were opposed to the system. At one point, colleges were surveyed about their view of high school grading systems and the fact is they do not care -- they have to make sense out of literally thousands of systems -- some numerical, some letter, some narrative, some weighted, some unweighted -- but all in all they recalculate using their own system to standardize for all so they can make decisions in a systematic way. Apparently, colleges are more interested in decile ranges than GPAs created by various different systems.

The good news is that RHS has been known for grading fairly and with integrity and not all schools have such a reputation since grade inflation is rampant in this country. No matter the system, our students should be evaluated fairly.

If I can share the way I’m personally looking at this issue: I am glad to know that my son’s grades will now be more mathematically accurate. I hope it moves him up in cases where he is on the fence, but even if it moves him down, at least it will have been fairly reached.

*On a side note, whatever happened to the good old "F"?

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