Over the summer, Humble ISD changed the overall grading scale it uses throughout the district by eliminating the grade of D on report cards and student academic transcripts. The updated grade scale was recommended by the Grade Policy Committee, which is chaired by Trey Kraemer, assistant superintendent for high schools, and approved by the school board at the Aug. 14 board meeting.

When it was approved, the explanation in the board agenda provided a brief statement as to why and what the impact to students would be in the coming years:

“Updating the grading scale would benefit students by bringing the Humble District in line with current practices utilized by area school districts, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), and Lone Star College. The NCAA Eligibility Center uses a school district’s published letter grading scale to award quality points for eligibility, with a C receiving two quality points and a D receiving one quality point. Because Humble ISD currently defines a D as 70-74, Humble ISD students who earn numerical grades between 70-74 only earn one quality point. In comparison, a student at another school district that defines a C as 70-79 could make the exact same number grade as an Humble ISD student, but earn two quality points. Changing the grading scale to assign a C to grades 70-79 would allow Humble ISD students to compete more fairly with these students in NCAA eligibility. Additionally, 70-74 is considered a C at Lone Star College and many of the area school districts. When a student in Humble ISD is in dual-credit courses and earns between a 70-74 it is submitted to Lone Star College as a C but is recognized as a D on the high school report card. Updating the grading scale would mean that the student receives the same letter grade with both Lone Star and Humble ISD for a dual-credit course. The proposed grading scale update will have no effect on the numerical grades awarded by teachers or the district’s high school grade point averages (GPA). The GPA for high school students uses the numerical grade to determine GPA, not the letter grade.”

What does this mean to the students and parents?

In terms of numeric GPA: nothing.

In terms of everything requiring NCAA eligibility and at Lone Star College: a lot.

Director of Public Communications Jamie Mount explained the change. She said many school districts had already made the change and more are expected to do so. The new grading scale is becoming the norm.

To understand why, one has to understand the way it has been done historically in Humble and most other school districts in Texas and many other states. The former grading scale for Humble ISD students in grades 3-12 was as follows:

A 90-100
B 80-89
C 75-79
D 70-74
F Below 70

The new grading scale for Humble ISD students in 2018-19 and beyond is:

A 90-100
B 80-89
C 70-79
F Below 70

The D is gone but its numbers are still in the same passing range. The letter C includes them in its 10-point range just as the B and the A use those ranges. D may be gone but the overall numeric GPA does not change when it comes to applying for colleges, including with job resumes, or selecting class valedictorians.

Even though the change makes no academic difference, it does affect students becoming eligible to compete at the intercollegiate level at NCAA member colleges and universities.

“The NCAA Clearinghouse is an essential step in becoming eligible to play college sports,” said Mount. “Over 180,000 potential college athletes register with the NCAA every year. High school students who want to play NCAA college sports and receive a scholarship register to be cleared by the NCAA as eligible, which includes a GPA calculation.”

Mount explained that the NCAA uses the district-provided grading scale to calculate the GPA for student-athletes planning to play sports in college. Under the former Humble ISD grading scale, if a student earned a semester grade between 70 and 74, NCAA calculated the grade as one point because Humble ISD stated the grade is a D. The updated scale will allow a grade between 70 and 74 to be calculated as a C, worth two points.

“Many schools across the state and country utilize this new scale. Changing the grading scale to assign a C to grades 70-79 allows Humble ISD students to compete more fairly with these students in NCAA eligibility. It gives them the same level playing field as all other high school students in their NCAA clearing house points,” Mount said.

Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen explained it in terms of its positive impact for the students.

“We are trying to align this in the best interest of our students moving forward by changing our grading scale,” said Fagen. “There is no change in the system other than the benefit of getting that extra point for 70 to 74 becoming a C instead of a D.”

In addition, the change affects dual-credit college courses. Mount explained that the change will provide clarity for grading dual-credit courses in which students are earning both high school credit and college credit from Lone Star College. Lone Star College instructors typically state a C range is 70-79. When a student takes a dual-credit course taught by a high school teacher, the teacher submits the final the range as a letter grade to Lone Star College. Some confusion has existed as to whether the teacher should submit to the college a C, under the Lone Star College standard, or a D under the former Humble ISD standard if the semester grade was between 70 and 74. Now the confusion is eliminated. Mount pointed out that the change in policy is not retroactive and applies to grades earned in the 2018-19 school year and beyond.

 

Bruce Olson
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I have been married since 1970 to Kerry, my best friend and a great Australian woman. I served and survived Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. I fought forest fires in the summer while in college, where I earned a B.A. in economics from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. I retired from Continental Airlines. I have a son and two granddaughters in Kingwood, and a daughter and two grandsons on a farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. I am now enjoying life as a grandfather, Tribune correspondent and Humble ISD guest teacher when not traveling to Zambia or Australia.