This year students in Stokes County schools will be graded on a 10-point scale, which has raised some questions on how high school will rank seniors at graduation.
Under that grading system grades between 90 and 100 would result in an “A,” 80-90 would be a “B,” 70-80 would be a “C,” 60-70 would be a “D” and everything below a 60 would be a an “F.” Grades would not be weighted on a four point scale to differentiate between, for example, a 99 or a 93, as they currently are.
“We are seeing that we may run into a year where we could have up to 17 valedictorians,” South Stokes High School Principal Wayne Duggins told the school board Monday. “So we are looking at switching to a system that would award Magna and Summa cum laude.”
West Stokes High School Principal Kevin Spainhour said many schools which had switched to the 10-point scale were having similar problems.
“We ran the numbers at West and last year we would have had six valedictorians and students ranking seven through 19 would have tied for salutatorian,” he said.
Spainhour said switching to the new system would be better for students in the long run because it would help to eliminate some of the competition between students to get the top spot.
“Right now they are competing against each other,” he said. “When you get to the top level it gets pretty severe. Now instead of competing against each other they will be competing against a standard, a set guideline of what ti takes to get to that level.”
“This will allow them to pull back a little bit, but still achieve,” agreed Duggins.
Spainhour said changing how top academic honors were bestowed would start with this year’s freshman class and not impact current sophomores, juniors or seniors.
He noted that the only problem would be deciding who would speak at graduation.
“You can’t have 10 speakers at graduation,” he said. “We would look at trying to put something into place at each school that would clarify how those speakers were identified.”
Duggins recommended that choosing the Senior Class President and Student Body President to speak may be the fairest way to pick graduation speakers.
Spainhour noted that choosing the speakers that way would give students the ability to plan on if they would end up speaking.
“I have heard of students who have not wanted to be in that top three or four because they did not want the pressure of speaking at graduation,” he said. “We think this is a win for our schools and students.”
The school board members expressed their approval of the suggestion but did not take any action to set any policies on the issue.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.