FCPS debates Grading System Change

From the moment a student enters high school until the time they throw their caps in the air at graduation, one of the biggest concerns among students is their grades. Many students work hard in order to obtain high grades and work even harder to maintain them. They believe that their GPA is the biggest factor when it comes to getting into college. Fairfax County Public Schools has decided that the current grading system may need a change because it has put too much stress upon students. Recently, this has prompted discussion among the school board members.

Six years ago, FCPS changed the grading system to the current system. Previously, Fairfax County had a five point grade scale, meaning that the county only offered five grades A, B, C, D and F. The county also did not offer GPA boosts for honors or AP classes.

Starting during the 2009-10 school year, FCPS changed the scale from a five point scale to a modified 10 point scale. This scale offers 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(64-66) and F(Below 64). Additionally, the system started to give GPA boosts for honors classes, AP classes and other selective specialized courses.

Some students think that the grading system should offer higher grades and GPA equivalents to show that you have truly mastered a subject.

“There should be A+’s for people who get over a hundred percent in a class which would give you a GPA of something above 4.0,” sophomore Rutika Kushe said. “It shows that you worked hard and understood the subject.”

Other students feel like the current grading system is fair and has many benefits.

“[I like the current grading system] because it has high ranges,” sophomore Munis Thahir said. “I like how the range to get an A is 10 points or percent.”

One of the most talked about potential policies is the “No Zero” policy. This rule eliminates grades of 50 percent and below, such as zeros or missing assignments. This means no teacher can give a student a zero on any assignment, quiz or test for any reason. This includes not getting any points on a test and not turning in assignments. Those who support the “No Zero” policy feel that it would make the system more fair.

“In many people’s opinion, having a grading scale from 0-10 is really unfair,” Principal Teresa Johnson said. “[They think it’s unfair because] you have 10 points between an A and a B whereas an F can be a 0-64. It also might level the playing field.”

The rule has created much buzz between students and teachers, who have varied opinions on what could occur if this policy is implemented.

Some students have positive responses because they think it will ease the pressure on their very stressful lives.

“Everyone has homework every night and sometimes it’s just too much, which causes you to forget or not try hard on an assignment,” Kushe said. “Some teachers don’t let you redo assignments or turn things in late.”

Zeros are detrimental to any grade, which is why some people believe that changing that zero to a 50 will not hurt an individual’s grade based on one assignment. Other students believe this rule is not well thought out and will become a burden on much of the student population just to help a few students.

“It’s helpful for people with learning disabilities but it is unfair for people who try hard,” Thahir said. “It’s also a handicap for people who don’t try at all because they aren’t really learning but they get the grade.”

Some feel that the rule is unfair because it gives certain students students an advantage. For example, hypothetically, the student who didn’t turn in an assignment and the student who tried an assignment and didn’t do as well could get the same grade.

“The 50 percent rule is very unintelligent because zero effort deserves zero reward; students should not receive half reward for doing nothing,” sophomore Kalvin Yuan said. “[This hypothetical rule] implies that for no effort means you still deserve credit. What about the students who actually try and strive for success?”