District 204 makes adjustments to high schools’ grading scale

Indian Prairie School District 204 is changing its grading scale for high school students.

The new scale makes it a little easier to get an A, and also easier to avoid getting the dreaded F.

Under the current system, students must score 91-100 for an A, 81-90 for a B, 71-80 for a C and 65-70 for a D. Anything below 65 is an F.

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, the high schools will shift the scale where 90-100 is an A, 80-89 is a B, 70-79 is a C, 60-69 is a D and 59 and below is an F.

Linda Rakestraw, assistant superintendent for secondary teaching and learning, told the Board of Education on Monday the district was approached earlier in the year by parents and community members who said the district’s grade scale was slightly off compared to other districts.

“It’s our contention at the time that we’ve always wanted to align with current practices and be fair to our students,” she said

“We recently conducted a survey of surrounding high school grading scales, and found Indian Prairie’s current grading scale to be slightly higher,” Rakestraw said.

She said the grade scale that aligned more with other districts was presented to the district’s three high school principals and leadership teams and after that the administration decided to move forward with the change.

“There will be no change in practices, no change in expectations or high standards, but just make that slight modification,” Rakestraw said.

While a more rigorous grade scale often does not affect the college application process, Rakestraw said it can affect scholarship money.

Rakestraw said that colleges look at a variety of factors when determining admission, including students’ success, interview process and community service.

“However, there could be some situations where the discrepancy might impact a student’s acceptance potential,” she said.

Scholarship applications often use grade point average to compare students, and Indian Prairie’s scale can put students at a disadvantage. Rakestraw said students will be happy with the adjusted scale. “We think our community will be happy with this as well,” she added.

A survey by Indian Prairie showed comparable school districts like Barrington 220, Batavia 101, St. Charles 303, Naperville 203, Oswego 308 and Plainfield 202, all adopted similar grade scales. School districts like Elmhurst 205 and Hinsdale 86 leave the grade scales up to individual departments. In Geneva 304, students receive an A for 89.5-100, a B is 79.5-89.49, a C is 69.5-79.49, a D is 59.5-69.49, and a F is below 59.5.

School board member Michael Raczak said what became clear to him through the surveys by the district is how arbitrary grading is at various schools. He said the changes in the grading scale is the perfect opportunity to further explore the matter. He said many of the top schools in the country are moving toward standards-based grading.

“I know that takes time, and I know that’s a paradigm shift,” Raczak said.