By Ross Markman
During the last year, Havre Public Schools assistant superintendent Dennis Parman has investigated the possibility of changing the district's grade scale.
Tuesday night, the Havre school board unanimously agreed that no change was needed. The board voted to keep the grading policy the way it has always been on a 4.0 scale.
At Havre schools, an A is equal to a 4.0, a B is 3.0, and so forth. If the district had modified the scale, an A would have equaled a 5.0, a B, 4.0, and so on but only for advanced classes.
The district considered the change because it was thought that some students avoid advanced classes, Parman said, because if they received a lower grade, it would lower their grade point average.
"But we don't know where to draw the line as to what's advanced and what's not advanced," he said.
Parman recommended that the scale not be modified, saying that "a good student should take challenging classes."
Parman polled administrators, teachers and ultimately district parents, asking them about their experience with a weighted-grade scale and if they agree with implementing it at Havre Public Schools.
The consensus was that no change was necessary, he said.
"It was pretty much split," Parman said. "If I had to say there was a majority, the majority said we should leave it as it is. It was probably 60-40."
Parents who favored changing the policy cited a variety of reasons, he added. Of the 65 surveys mailed to parents of this year's seniors, 36 responded.
"Some said maybe it would be an incentive to take advanced classes. Some parents thought more kids might get scholarships because they take advanced classes and get a B," Parman said.
But colleges, Parman noted, consider more than a GPA when evaluating a student's academic resume. Quality of courses and scores on tests like the SAT and ACT also factor in, he said.
"There are very few scholarships based on class rank," he said.
Students, Parman said, were not asked for their thoughts on modifying the grade scale, mainly because he knew what their answer would be.
"If we went to a high school student and said, Do you think you'd be more likely to take an AP class if you get an B that's worth a A?' I think they'd probably say yeah," he said. "But they'd probably have to have taken an interest in that content area first."
Havre High School offers advanced placement classes in history, English, math, science and art.
"There's a lot of kids taking tough classes. A lot of kids will continue to take tough classes," he said.
"I don't think it's pervasive throughout the student body to juggle their GPA to make it as high as it can be," Parman added. "I think it's pervasive of them to take advanced classes because they want to."