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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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CV revises its grading system

Grades will look a little bit different in the Central Valley School District next year.

The school board voted unanimously this week to revise the grading scale, creating a wider percentage range for each letter grade.

Parents lauded the decision, which came months after they began arguing that the old scale put Central Valley students at a disadvantage.

“I’m very happy” said Diane Kipp, a Central Valley High School parent. “I think now students will be more appropriately rewarded for the work and the effort that they put in.”

Beginning in the fall, all Central Valley students will be graded on a 60 to 100 percent scale. For decades, the district had been using an unusual 70 to 100 percent scale, where students who earned below a 70 percent were considered failing.

The change “is going to really help those poor little guys who are really trying,” said board president Anne Long. “If they don’t have some success they’re going to give up.”

Still, board members encouraged teachers not to be satisfied when students merely reach a passing grade.

“I don’t want to leave our kids at that level,” said board member Cindy McMullen.

Board member Lynn Trantow agreed.

“Some people will see us lowering our expectations when expectations should be going up,” she said.

The district also will move from a four-point to an 11-point scale. Students who earn between 90 and 93 percent in a class will earn an A-minus and a 3.7. Under the previous grading scale, they would have received a B and a 3.0.

“I don’t think there is any question in any circle that we want the 11-point scale,” assistant superintendent Jay Walter said when he presented the recommendations to the school board in late April.

The grading scale provoked controversy among district parents and students who felt the stricter scale made it harder for Central Valley students to compete for scholarships, college admissions and even car insurance discounts.

Few area districts have a percentage scale set in policy, but most teachers use the traditional 60 to 100 percent scale.

In addition to the two grading scale changes, Walter said the district will move toward creating a uniform grading policy where an A represents the mastery of state- and district-defined goals.

To that end, school board members encouraged the district administrators to consider going beyond letter grades to encourage the sole use of the 11-point scale, which they said has the potential to offer clearer information to parents and students.

McMullen said such a system would allow parents to more accurately pinpoint what their children have learned and what they still need to work on.

Board members also said they’d like grades to be an indicator of expected success on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, the state’s standardized test.

“Our work is not done,” said board member Craig Holmes.

“That question – how does a grade align with passing the WASL and earning the Certificate of Academic Achievement – is of a bigger concern to us.”

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