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VUHS seniors and juniors spared new grading scale

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October 15, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — Vergennes Union High School administrators decided last week to base the class rank and grade-point averages (GPAs) of their junior and senior classes on the school’s previous grading system, not the new grading system VUHS adopted for the current school year.

Grades for freshman and juniors will still be reported under the new system.

VUHS Co-Principal Edwin Webbley said last Wednesday that decision was made after “further conversations with board members, parents and the guidance department.” Those conversations included an Oct. 3 meeting with four dozen parents.

“We’re exactly and absolutely going to keep what we have as far as their GPA and class rank for this year and next year,” Webbley said.

Administrators also reversed course on VUHS honor roll standards, which now will be based on underlying numerical grades, not on letter grades. On Oct. 4 they had decided to retain the existing letter-grade based system, but now Webbley said the honor roll will be based strictly on the numbers.

To earn high honors, students will need to maintain an average of at least 90 in all their courses, and to earn a spot on the honor roll a student must achieve at least an 80 on all his or her courses and a 90 in a least one course.

As far as class rank and GPAs, Webbley said school officials essentially decided it would be more fair to juniors and seniors to stick to the current system, which starts at a 4.3 for an A-plus and ranges down from there, not the new system, in which a 4.0 is the highest grade possible. Students — still including juniors and seniors — must also achieve at least a 70 to pass a course under the newly adopted system. 

The school’s freshmen and sophomores will continue to have their grades and GPAs based on the underlying numbers of the new 4.0 system. Under that system, a score of 70 to 76 is a D, 77-84 is a C, 85-92 is a B, and 93-100 is an A. Those numerical grades, plus letter grades without pluses or minuses, will be included on report cards.

Previously VUHS had taken numerical grades, converted those into letter grades that have included pluses and minuses, and then re-converted those into numerical grades on a 0.0 to 4.33 scale to create GPAs and class rankings.

Because a range of numerical grades had equaled the same letter grade — for example, anything between an 83 and an 87 was a B, which translated to a 3.0 for averaging purposes — VUHS officials believe that previous practices were less accurate than their new system.

But ultimately they decided not to change the rules for students halfway or further through their senior high school years.

“It is a rational move,” Webbley said. “Converting two years of grades to a different system would have been as torturous as the conversions now used to change the numbers to letter grades and back to numbers to create a GPA.”

In the future VUHS plans to report numerical grades, not letter grades, as well as class rankings to colleges. College admissions officers have said that practice is acceptable.

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