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NC High Schools Moving To 10-Point Grading Scale

multiple choice test
Alberto G.
Flickr Creative Commons

  North Carolina’s high schools will move to a 10-point grading scale in 2015-16, going into effect with next year's freshmen. 

The State Board of Education approved the change on Thursday, moving away from the 7-point scale that has long been in place.

The 7-point scale means that a score between 93 and 100 is an A, 85-92 is a B, and so on.

Under the new scale, an A will be 90 to 100, and an 80 will be the lowest B. Scores below 60 will be considered failing.  

Some of the state's largest school districts were pushing for the change, arguing that it would level the playing field. They said that students living in states with 10-point scales are at an advantage when applying to colleges. Only four states require school districts to adopt a 7-point scale. 

One North Carolina student felt so strongly about the issue that he wrote legislation this year, trying to convince lawmakers to move away from the 7-point scale. 

“This is highly emotional for some folks and I encourage you to develop a roll out plan that communicates to parents, so they fully understand this,” board member Wayne McDevitt told Department of Public Instruction leaders at a State Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

Rebecca Garland, the state’s Chief Academic Officer, told McDevitt and others that “there is no easy way to transition,” but that she commends the board for making the move.

She said that the state received overwhelming support for the 10-point scale. Some teachers, however, expressed concerns about the wide range, saying that students who consistently receive 91’s are performing differently than students who consistently score 99’s.

To mitigate that issue, Garland said that student transcripts will include the actual number grades so that colleges can have a better sense of how well students are performing. 

Elementary and middle schools will still use grading scales set by their district school boards, though the new policy suggests they adopt 10-point scales. 

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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