Proposed Grading Change Merits an ‘F’

Editor, News-Register:

The West Virginia Board of Education has proposed changing and dumbing down the current high school grading scale, making a grade of 90-100 an “A” rather than the current 93-100. The proposed new scale would be 0-59 F, 60-69 D, 70-79 C, 80-89 D, 90-100 A, from the current 0-64 F, 65-74 D, 75-84 C, 85-92 B, 93-100 A.

We already live in an age of rampant grade inflation; the average college GPA is 0.3 to 0.5 higher than it was a generation ago and about 40 percent of all grades awarded in college are in the “A” range. High school grading is even far more generous. We have gone so far as to create the fiction that kids now have GPAs far in excess of 4.0 on a “4.0 scale” to try and distinguish our best students. In the real world you cannot give more than 100 percent effort, but you can have a GPA of 4.8 or higher.

Now rather than distinguishing its best students in a feasible manner and making good grades actually mean something, the West Virginia Board of Education wants to turn mediocre students into good ones and good students into great ones with just the change of a policy and not any actual harder work by students.

In effect, less effort now earns better grades. This expansion of the grading scale diminishes the value of grades as any indicator of a student’s ability. Without grade inflation, a truly outstanding student might be awarded an “A,” while a very good student might receive a “B-plus.” With grade inflation both students receive the top grade, making it hard for schools and colleges to differentiate them and making GPAs even more meaningless. There is also evidence that lenient grading reduces student effort, but that’s just common sense, something usually lacking from state education officials.

Recent past history has revealed that if state education officials are good at anything, it is patting themselves on the back for fake accomplishments.

Want a rise in graduation rates? Dumb down the graduation requirements. Want to get rid of Common Core? Just change its title to West Virginia College and Career Readiness Standards with no actual change of content. Want students to “earn” better grades? Lower the grading scales.

The West Virginia Department of Education is seeking public comment on this proposed change at This proposed policy change should receive an “F,” no matter what grading scale is used.

David Delk