The 7-point grading scale: unfair, or beneficial?

Does RV’s grading scale make it harder for students to achieve…or make us all look like a bunch of geniuses?

Free image/jpeg, Resolution: 594x547, File size: 25Kb, Good Report Card Clip Art N2

Free image/jpeg, Resolution: 594×547, File size: 25Kb, Good Report Card Clip Art N2

Isabella Cifaldi, Student Life Writer

Moving through your high school career at RV, you start to notice how your grades and GPA are accounted for. Not to mention, how the grades that are accumulated throughout your high school career are a pivotal factor in your GPA, which is critical for college are accounted for.

But here’s something interesting: did you know RV’s grading scale differs from other regional schools in south Jersey?

“RV’s grading system is unique to other schools within the area,” a local SAT tutor, who works with students from other regional high schools, stated. “For RV, the 7-point grading scale is our norm, whereas for most schools this is not.”

The typical grading scale for schools in the surrounding South Jersey school districts, such as Cherry Hill East, Cherry Hill West and Lenape, falls under the 10-point grading scale. The 10-point scale is generally used by many colleges and universities across the country as well.

RV’s grading scale differs from other curriculums and school districts within the area. Essentially, it limits the range of higher grades, like A’s and B’s, which could arguably make them more difficult to attain.

This brings forth the question, does this 7-point grading scale put RV students at an advantage or disadvantage? Furthermore, would a 10-point grading scale be better for RV students? 

Junior Aaliyah Thompson views our school’s scale neutrally. “I think the 7-point grading scale has added extra pressure for me to earn higher grades,” Thompson said. “A lot of times, that has worked out in my favor, but other times it has caused me unwanted stress, especially when I don’t make the grade. Overall, the 7-point grading scale has worked well for me, but I understand the appeal of the 10 point grading scale.” 

Junior Kyle McKee views our school’s scale as a disadvantage. “The 7-point scale definitely makes grades look worse than they actually are, especially when you look at them compared to other schools, which have the 10-point grading scale,” he said. “I feel like a 10-point grading scale would be better because most other schools in the area have it, and even though our grading scale encourages hard work, it puts us at a disadvantage. Additionally, GPAs look higher on the 10-point grading scale.” 

Junior Rohan Patel agrees. “The 7-point grading scale is an outdated competitive grading scale that encourages harder work for fewer rewards,” he said. “Students with 10-point scales at other schools get the same amount of recognition for being smart as 7-point students do, even though the students using the 7-point grading scale have to work harder to succeed. The best solution is probably to make either the 7-points or 10-points universal.”

Many other school districts who previously used the 7-point scale switched under pressure from parents and students. Several southern districts in the Carolinas, for example, recently switched, according to press releases from the North and South Carolina Departments of Education respectively. Other districts, like Fairfax County Public Schools in northern Virginia, a traditionally competitive and high-achieving district, continue to use the 7-point scale.

Junior Devon Creelman views RV’s scale as neither negative nor positive. “The 7-point grading scale does not put us at a disadvantage, especially for colleges because every high school has such different grading scales and systems,” Creelman said. “Unless the 10-point grading scale changes the weight of your GPA, the 10-point scale is not necessarily better because it will only change the letter grade, not your GPA. I think the 7-point scale does not put students at a disadvantage and the 10-point grading scale would only grade the actual letter grade without affecting the GPA.”

According to Assistant Principal and head of Guidance Bill Booth, RV’s grading scale was established to promote academic achievement. “Over the years, RV has implemented a grading system to ensure that our educational foundation is one that reflects our commitment to excellence,” he said. “This can be seen in our 7-point grading system which was a change to make RV a more rigorous school and one that is analogous to a college grading system.”

Mr. Booth points to recent conversations about the grading scale over the years, especially in light of the recent push to reform many academic programs under the Vision 2020 plan.

“This concept has been discussed over the past years during different strategic plans.  To revert back to a 10-point scale would give the impression that the standards have been reduced,” he said. “Changing the grading scale will not change the distribution of grades, as teachers would adjust the weight of assignments and assessments. Investigating other high schools with a 10-point scale has shown that the distribution of grades correlates with these other institutions regardless of the 7 vs. 10- point scale.”

Mr. Booth also noted that it’s an issue of motivation and encouragement. Students “have a belief that our system enables them to be more able to accept challenges in their future academic endeavors,” said Booth.

Additionally, from a college standpoint, the 7-point scale can actually be an advantage. For the college-bound student, the 7-point scale demonstrates that extra push academically that is reflected in the transcript.

“Each student that applies to a college has a school profile sent with respect to the grading system of each high school. Colleges review these profiles from individual high schools,” said Booth. “The admissions counselors read applications and are responsible for understanding the school’s weighting and grading systems. A number of institutions recalculate an applicant’s high school GPA which is certainly an advantage for a student applying from RV. We are confident that colleges will place our grading system as one to be emulated and that this will certainly place students from RVRHS as having a distinct advantage in the admission process.” 

Ultimately, RV’s 7 point grading scale differs from other school districts within the area which causes controversy among our own students. It’s a conversation that is likely to continue given the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic, which has been even more pressure on schools to meet students and families where they are.