EAST PALESTINE - Should the minimum passing grade for classes in the village school district drop by 5 percent, and if so, will that make it more tempting for students to slack off?
The question was tossed around by school board members Monday as they discussed a proposed change to the existing grading scale that would lower the minimum passing D grade from 70 percent to 65.
Board member Ron Novak was not in favor of the change and believes it would open the door for students to make less of an effort in classes if they know they have a better chance of passing.
He said the district should keep in line with the "higher standard" already in place.
The grading scales are broken down as follows:
A, 92-100A, 93-100
B, 85-91B, 86-92
C, 75-84C, 78-85
D, 65-4D, 70-77
F, 64-00F, 69-00
Superintendent George Fisk said a change to the scale was first discussed among the Labor Relations Committee in February of 2013. The committee - which consist of four teachers and four administrators - gathered grading scales from other area schools and colleges to see if a trend existed and then surveyed East Palestine staff to see if a change would be well received.
At that time support for a change was limited based on concerns about the upper tier of the scale being too drastically changed, he said.
The discussion was resurrected among the committee in February of this year and input was sought from the building leadership teams, who helped develop the new proposal, he said.
In May of this year the committee surveyed the staff on the latest version, and it was "overwhelmingly supported," he added.
Results of the survey showed 82 percent (51 people) on staff favored the new scale while 18 percent (11 people) were opposed.
Fisk said that before bringing the proposal to the board he also researched the grading scales of schools ranked top 10 in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. He could not find grading scales for two of the schools, but seven of them use a 10-point scale, meaning grades are cut off at 90, 80, 70, and 60 percent. The other school uses a system similar to the new proposed scale, he said.
He told the board the change is being suggested because it will "put kids on more of an even keel with other schools."
He also noted that some area colleges use a 10-point system, but Novak said comparing schools district is like "comparing apples and oranges" because of differences in curriculum.
According to information provided by Fisk, as of May of 2013, Columbiana, Lisbon, South Range, Crestview, Leetonia, and Beaver Local districts in Columbiana County all had grading scales in which the minimum passing grade was set at 65 percent.
United Local's minimum passing grade was set at 60 percent.
With the exception of board member Rube Ginder, all favored tabling the change for further discussion.
Novak said he would like to hear more from the staff as to why a change is needed, and Ginder's only comment after the meeting was he did not wish to table because he wanted to support Fisk's recommendation.
During the meeting Ginder has asked if the district could keep the existing scale for the new school year and implement the change the following year, since the board has already approved the student handbook for the new year at the last meeting.
The suggestion garnered to response, although Novak and others were somewhat concerned with how the change could affect those students who have already selected courses on the existing scale.