By Robert Kittle
South Carolina education superintendent Molly Spearman plans to propose changing the state’s grading scale, going from the current 7-point scale to the 10-point scale used in North Carolina, Georgia, and most other states. She could propose the plan to the state Board of Education as early as the board’s next meeting April 12, but the final plan is still being developed. The board would have to approve the change.
Under the current 7-point scale, an A is 93-100, a B is 85-92, a C is 77-84, a D is 70-76, and anything 69 and below is an F. With the 10-point scale, an A is 90-100, a B is 80-89, a C is 70-79, a D is 60-69, and 59 and below is an F.
Superintendent Spearman wants to make the change as a way to level the playing field for South Carolina students. A Georgia or North Carolina student making an 84, for example, gets a B, while a South Carolina student would get a C for that same 84. Overall, that would lower the student’s grade point average and could make it harder to get into college and get scholarships. She says with a 10-point grading scale, as many as 13,000 more South Carolina students could qualify for lottery scholarships.
High school sophomore Clavin Coombs moved to Columbia from Ohio, where they use the 10-point scale, so he’s experienced both. He says, “You really have to step up your game to achieve better grades in this (7-point) type of grading system, and the 10-point grading scale is a lot easier.” But he says the tougher scale may benefit students more because they’re more challenged.
Tandy McConnell, parent of a high school sophomore, says, “I think it really doesn’t make any difference. Teachers generally decide that this is an ‘A’ paper, this is a ‘B’ paper, this is a ‘C’ paper. The difference between an 88 and an 89 is way too fine, for most teachers who are not giving a purely objective test, to distinguish.” He’s also a professor at Columbia College, which also uses the 7-point scale.
But other parents say it just makes sense to make South Carolina’s grading scale the same as our neighboring states’.