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Whiteland school leader wants input on grading scale

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The leader of a local high school wants to return to a traditional 10-point-increment grading scale for students, but before any decisions are made he wants to know what parents think.

This fall interim Principal John Schilawski started looking into whether Whiteland Community High School needed to adjust its grading scale. Whiteland students have to earn at least 91.5 percent to earn an A-minus in a class, while most other schools in the county and around the state use a traditional grading scale requiring a score 90 percent or higher for an A.

Over the years local school districts, including Center Grove, have implemented stricter grading scales but went back to traditional grading scale after hearing complaints from parents. This fall, a parent group Schilawski meets with monthly asked him to investigate whether Whiteland’s grading scale was making it difficult for the school’s students to compete for college acceptance or scholarships.

Schilawski couldn’t find solid proof that the grading scale was stopping students from getting into or receiving money for college. But he wants to adjust the scale so that students’ grades will be more comparable to most other high schools and colleges.

“We found that it doesn’t hurt us, and there is the potential for some advantage for certain segments of kids,” he said.

Before making a recommendation to the school board, Schilawski wants to meet with interested Whiteland parents at the end of January. He wants a chance to speak with anyone who has any questions or concerns about a change in the grading scale, he said.

If Schilawski makes a recommendation and it is approved by the Clark-Pleasant school board this spring, then the new grading scale would go into effect next fall.

“We have time. We don’t have to rush into a decision,” he said. “We are well ahead of the curve for implementation into next year that we can take the time to investigate concerns.”

Schilawski spoke with high schools and colleges to see if students from high schools with traditional, 10-point-interval grading scales were getting into college more frequently or receiving more scholarships than students from schools that required higher scores to earn an A.

He couldn’t find any instances in which a high school’s grading scale stopped students from getting into the colleges they wanted, largely because colleges look at multiple factors when considering applicants.

Colleges consider grade-point averages and class ranks when assigning scholarships, but ACT and SAT scores typically get more attention, Schilawski said.

In most cases the new scale wouldn’t have a huge impact on students’ overall letter grades, he said, but some schools that switched to a traditional grading scale saw an increase in the number of students earning C’s instead of D’s.

He said that, if Whiteland changes its grading scale, the biggest advantage will be the uniformity it will have with other high schools and colleges.

“It’s one that is easily recognizable for most people,” Schilawski said.

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