Teachers aim for fairness in grading

“It’s time to abandon grading scales that distort the accuracy, objectivity, and reliability of students’ grades,” said Thomas R. Guskey, author of The Case Against Percentage Grades. And indeed, that has been the goal at Spring Valley since it first incorporated the 5-point grading scale last year, follow by the 8-point scale this year.
This August, Spring Valley, began using a new 8-point scale, which is meant to bring accuracy to grading more than the traditional 100 point system. A group of teachers from both Spring Valley High School and Johnson Middle School got together for a meeting over this new system, but ultimately, it was Principal Tam Larnerd’s decision to change the policy.
Every school in the district is being encouraged to change their grading systems to give students a more fair chance to succeed. The scale ranges from 8, equal  100 percent in the grade book, to 0, equal to 50 percent. Students may also receive an NC, for not complete, or an AD, for academic dishonesty — both of which translate into 25 percent in the gradebook.
The policy was changed for one main reason: so that grades can be more mathematically consistent and fair, said Larnerd. With the percentages, a sole 50 points were considered failing and anything above that represented success. The eight point scale makes it more flexible for students, giving them more chances to succeed, said IB coordinator Mr. Tony Gebbia. “We have just as many ways to describe failure as we do to success,” said Gebbia.
On the old scale, 59 percent of the gradebook represented failure. Instead of there being a fifty percent chance of succeeding as well as failure, students should have a higher chance of success, administrators said.
The policy gives more range in grading for students. Last school year, during the second semester, the school changed the policy to a five point scale. With the five point scale, there was a big gap in between the numbers. Some teachers created small additions in their ways of grading last year to make it more advantageous for the students.
“You understand the change better because there is more variation than just the five,” said Ms. Collins, the Dance teacher whom took a part of the authorization of the policy taking effect.
Some students, however, are still adjusting to the the changed policy.
“I find it more difficult to know whether a five or a six is good when I get my graded assignments back. The numbers are too confusing,” said Junior Sincere Tarver about the new system.