For more than 20 years, Millard Public Schools has graded their students utilizing the 7-point scale. This system determines grades using seven percentage points for each letter grade; 93-100% for a 1, 85-92% for a 2, so on and so forth. While the 7-point scale has been in use by the district for as long as anyone can remember, Millard could benefit from switching to a 10-point scale.
The 10-point scale is functionally identical to the 7-point scale, but instead of seven percentage points for each letter grade, there are ten. This would implement as: 90-100% for a 1, 80-89% for a 2, and most importantly, a 60-69% for a 4. Instead of the current 69% needed to get a passing grade, students would be able to pass their classes with a 60%.
Millard has discussed implementing the 10-point scale in the past but no changes have ever been made. Considering the current circumstances and also the inherent benefits, now is the time for Millard to reopen talks about possibly making the transition.
One of the primary reasons Millard should switch to the 10-point scale is for uniformity with higher education. Almost all universities grade off the 10-point scale. With the level of emphasis Millard puts on preparing its students for college, it seems strange that the district doesn’t grade with the same structure as universities. In addition, it seems backwards that high school and middle school students in Millard have a more strict grading standard than university students.
It’s not just universities that are using the 10-point scale, however. The Lincoln, Papillion-La Vista, and Westside districts all use a 10-point grading system. Millard gives their students a competitive disadvantage when applying for college by using the 7-point scale. For students at the districts currently using the 10-point scale, it’s easier to get 1s than for Millard students. This means it is easier for students from Lincoln, Papillion, and Westside to maintain a 4.0 GPA, giving them advantages over Millard students in acquiring scholarships.
A common criticism leveled against the 10-point scale is that it would lower the standards of academic performance because it is easier to pass classes. However, Papillion and Westside have consistently performed similarly to Millard on statewide tests and received the same District Classification rating of Great from the Nebraska Department of Education. This shows that the 10-point scale doesn’t lower the standard for education.
The 10-point scale would be a good system to introduce at any time, but now more than ever it would be a good idea to implement. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students (especially remote learners) are falling behind in their classes. Unlike the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year however, there won’t be a bailout. There’s no option for pass-fail and many of last semester’s forgiving grading policies are gone. Students will be given a letter grade with no negotiations, and the district might not like what they see when the final grades roll in. Introducing the 10-point scale could be just what students need to make it into passing territory or jump to the letter grade they want.