“A rich tradition of academic excellence for over a century.”

Those words on Pikeville High School’s website describe the school’s quest for academic excellence. It could be interpreted that the system demands higher performance from both students and faculty.  

It doesn’t mean that less is expected of students at other schools. It means that the independent schools district has higher standards. Other schools produce exceptional students who have gone on to achieve greatness. We see that all the time.

The board is considering changing the grading scale from a seven-point to a 10-point system, which is more the norm in grading. There are very few, if any, schools left in the state that use the seven- point grading scale. 

In addition to lowering the standard, the board is struggling as to when to institute the change. There is a consideration for it to become retroactive so that all students will be re-evaluated, and their grades could change based upon the new grading scale. 

According to some of the teachers I spoke with, the current grading scale forces students to work harder for higher grades. It also keeps the teachers more accountable for ensuring the students are understanding the subjects they are teaching. 

In theory, a higher scale forces students to learn more, which, in turn, could result in higher ACT scores. Higher ACT scores offer the ability for more and higher academic scholarships. It also forces the students who want to obtain better grades to put in extra effort for that higher grade should they be close to the threshold. Every teacher I spoke to wants to keep the scale the same. 

On the other side of that coin, lowering the grade scale offers students who are on the fence the opportunity to get more grant money for college and levels the playing field for all students statewide. A consistent 92 student is considered a B student and could possibly get less grant money because of that B grade. Whereas on the 10-point scale that 92 student is considered an A student. 

If it’s about the money, then I say use the 10-point scale. If it’s about tradition and academics, then leave it alone and formulate a plan where the faculty ensures they have done everything they can for every student so they can earn competitive grants and scholarships. 

Each student knows the grading scale going into the system. And they have a choice to stay in the system or go to another school. Just because you live inside the district, doesn’t mean you have to go to the independent school. I know kids who transfer out of the district because they hate the atmosphere and thrive in other schools. But rarely do you hear a student transferring out because of the grading scale. 

This is not an easy decision as I’m sure the board is feeling pressure from parents. And rightfully so, as college costs a fortune and parents and students are racking up debt they will never be able to pay back. 

Thanks for reading the News-Express

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