The grading scale: a retrospective

How is RV feeling about the changes to the grading scale? With one full semester under our belts, it’s time to see how the changes played out.


Photo illustration by Sherm

The new RV grading scale better matches grading scales around the country

Anjali Darji, Opinions Editor

This school year marked the start of something: a new way of grading. In the RV Family Summer Letter 2022, Superintendent Heilig named the transition from a seven-point grading scale to a ten-point grading scale under “Priorities for the 2022-2023 school year” and stated that “[the] transition will not lower classroom rigor or standards of achievement as the strength of curriculum and teacher instruction will remain the same.”

With this change, the students of RV have spoken about what they think about this new grading system, although many students are resigned, tired, or simply indifferent to the changes made to the grading scale, while others believe the changes are simply insignificant.

“I don’t care about the grading scale, to be honest,” said senior Dylan Selby.   

Senior Keyony Hawkins-hill said, “[The change] doesn’t really matter because teachers adjust [the intensity] to the new grading scale.” 

While the FAQ-Grading Scale document states that the new 10-point scale would “encourage students to challenge themselves by taking more advanced level courses without concerns that these courses could negatively affect their GPA,” this is both right and wrong. Sure, psychologically, students will have this false sense of security, but in reality, additional changes made to the scale refute the actuality of this fact.

In the FAQ, it was also stated that “if in the 2021-2022 school year, a student earned the lowest ‘A’ grade possible on an assessment (93%) such as a unit test or rubric-scored project, the scoring will be adjusted for the 2022-2023 school year so that the student’s grade again reflects the lowest ‘A’ possible with a 90% (A-),” meaning students who previously avoided higher-rigor courses would unknowingly be entering into the same environment under the illusion of a more lenient grading scale.

“On one hand, [the 10-point scale] helps students, especially with self-esteem, how they do in a class and their GPA,” said Mrs. White, a World History and AP European History teacher. “On the other hand, it really impacts how I grade and what I perceive as an ‘A’ vs. a numerical score. In my mind, I am [looking] at student work and thinking, ‘What do I consider an ‘A’? ‘B’?’ and I go from there before assigning scores on written assignments and projects.”

This only goes to prove that while the grading scale has changed, it has only done so for non-subjective grades.

Nonetheless, this is still a welcome change.

“I am glad to see the benefits that will come out of the change [to a 10-point grading scale],” sophomore Ruhan Shah said.

As president of his middle school, Shah helped pave the way for Lumberton Middle School’s adaptation of the 10-point grading system, and at RV, he did the same thing.

“The reason I am a firm believer in the 10-point grading scale is [that] through research I found that students are put at a greater disadvantage when applying to colleges with the 7-point scale,” he said.

As the FAQ stated, this new scale “[improves] chances of college admissions and [increases] scholarship opportunities since most college admissions departments rely on final course grades for decision-making.” Many high schools within our state and across the nation have adopted a 10-point grade scale to measure academic success. By doing the same, RV students are being held to the same standards, albeit on a less disputable scale. This gives RV students an accurate GPA when compared to students from other schools and will eliminate the disadvantages of the old scale.

This same logic applies to any comparison of GPAs, such as for students who transfer in from other districts.

“[The new grading scale] makes the grades cohesive,” said senior Brenna Delgado, who transferred to RV at the beginning of her sophomore year. “[And] it makes sense to have a 10-point grading scale [because] having a 7-point one is arbitrary.”

The 7-point scale put simply, is unnecessary and causes disparities between GPA’s from different districts.

Students support the new 10-point grading scale and want it to continue, but there has been an ongoing debate among students revolving around the decision to not retroactively alter final course grades from the previous grading policy.

“The new grading scale needs to go beyond this school year — both for the future and for the GPAs of past years,” said junior Keira Sohosky.

 This decision is beneficial for those who had higher class ranks under the 7-point scale, as it will not cause a retroactive change to their standing. The debate entails the idea that under the 7-point scale, students knew the standards and many achieved A’s while keeping in mind a 93 is required. By retroactively including 90-92 grades as A’s, yes, many students’ GPAs would be boosted, but many students who worked hard to achieve their A’s while under different standards could stand to lose the benefits of their hard work. But, by not retroactively altering the grades, three more classes will have to graduate until they can accurately see their grades line up with the 10-point scale standards of fellow districts and colleges. 

This leaves students who have experienced both the old 7-point scale and the new 10-point scale in the unique position to compare their experiences with them both at RV.

“The 7-point scale made me strive for better grades, and [the 10-point scale] makes me feel better about my grades,” said senior Nathaniel Monroe.

However, not all students have shifted their thinking along the new grading scale.

“Even though the school has a 10-point grading scale now, I still think in terms of the 7-point grading scale,” said senior Kayla Reed. 

Many students agree with the benefits of the new scale, and students who once straddled A’s and B’s are more firmly earning solid A’s.

“I like having an A,” said senior Stephanie Jose, who started RV under the old grading system.

Overall, students like the 10-point grading scale, and their concerns about it will only hold relevance for the next three years. The 10-point scale positively affects students’ mental health and how they approach school and levels the playing field for students regarding college admissions, scholarships and competition with transfer students.