FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The first day of school is already in the books for kids in the Pee Dee. It’s also the first day of a new grading scale for many of those students.
When it comes to education, change seems to be the only certainty.
So for teachers and administrators in South Carolina, it came as no surprise when the state board of education voted in April to finally start using the 10-point grading scale.
“It’s been talked about for years,” said Dr. Kelvin Wymbs with Florence School District One.
But it was only after surrounding states like Georgia and–most recently–North Carolina made the change that South Carolina followed suit.
Under the new scale, a score of 90-100 is an A, 80-89 is a B, and so on. The old scale was a seven-point scale, where students have to earn at least a 93 to get an A.
“It gives SC students a fair opportunity to apply for admissions and scholarships,” Dr.Wymbs said. He oversees secondary education for the FSD1.
That’s because not only are all surround states already using this scale, it’s the same one that colleges and universities across the country have used for decades.
Let’s say a student from N.C. wants to go to Clemson. His grades average out to a 92, which means under North Carolina’s 10-point scale he has earn a 4.0 GPA.
Now let’s say a Palmetto State student applies to Clemson with the same 92 average. Under S.C.’s old 7-point scale, he has a B, or a 3.0 GPA, even though he has the same grades as his Tar Heel counterpart.
“That’s a big difference when you’re fighting for athletic awards and academic awards,” Wymbs explained.
The new grading scale also means more students will be eligible for South Carolina’s Hope and Life lottery scholarships-which are based on GPA.
Critics of the new scale argue that a new 10-point scale will water down education, or make it easier for some students to sneak by with less effort.
Kayla Maxwell, an instructional coach at Forestbrook Middle in Horry County, says it’s up to teachers to keep their kids working hard.
“The rigor of our classes is going to have to be intensified so it will reflect and truly be at that ten point level rather than just a seven point level,” said Maxwell.
Since the vote to change scales in April, state education officials have been working with teachers in each district, offering training to make sure everyone is prepared for the switch.
Teachers in several districts told News 13 their only concern as the year begins is that the new scale is reflected in Power School, the computer system teachers use to record grades and communicate with parents. State officials said the program should be updated very soon to reflect the new scale.
Other than that, these educators are excited to see what the new scale will do for S.C. students.
“I think for a long time SC has been in a weird place because we haven’t been able to compete because we didn’t have that same grading scale,” said Maxwell. “And now as educators I think we see that and the benefits of it. As far as what we do in our classrooms, that’s easy to adjust.”
To see answers to frequently asked questions regarding the new scale, click here
To see how the new scale may affect your students GPA, view a conversion chart here