The grade point average for current Essex High School juniors will be converted under the new grading scale conversion next fall, making them the first class to apply for college under the system, principal Rob Reardon told the school board earlier this month
The high school won’t, however, retroactively change grades for those who failed a class under the current system but would have achieved a passing grade under the new scale.
Reardon relayed the two administrative decisions to the school board May 15, two weeks after he first outlined the grading scale conversion changes.
The new system operates with a passing grade of 60 — 10 points lower than now — and converts grades from a 100-scale into a generally higher GPA. For example, an 85 average will be converted to a 3.0 instead of a 2.4.
Reardon expected an easy transition for current juniors who will apply for college next fall because they will still receive a grade out of 100 on their transcripts. Colleges will then take that cumulative grade to convert a GPA using the school’s profile sent with each application.
Reardon said the high school will work with admissions counselors from the University of Vermont to tailor a new school profile that sends a “clear message going forward.” The updated profile will be posted online by August 29, the first day of the 2018 school year.
Parents and several board members had called for the retroactive changes, but Reardon said students knew what to expect when the year began, since teachers establish course expectations for each class.
“They’re working hard with students right now who made be on the precipice of passing or not passing, and then to automatically change things after the fact, teachers would not support that all,” Reardon said.
Retired EHS teacher John Maddalena wondered how teachers will make the transition since, for example, a failing grade of 69 this year will constitute a passing grade next year. Reardon said teachers across content areas are now working to figure that out.
More changes are on the way for EHS and many other Vermont schools as the 2020 deadline for a proficiency-based system nears. Earlier this year, Reardon said that transition will include a discussion about whether to keep the traditional 100-scale or move to a new system altogether.
He said none of those decisions have been made.