Mountain View Voice

News - December 21, 2012

No perfect scores with new system

by Nick Veronin

According to Steve Uhlir, the parent of a Mountain View High School senior, the biggest problem with the new grading system occurs in departments that grade students based upon subjective assignments, such as essays. They have devised a system that penalizes students on the verge of moving up or down a full letter grade, which he believes has the potential to be most detrimental for students on the cusp between an A-minus and a B-plus.

That's because students who earn a perfect score on such an assignment at Mountain View High School — an essay, book report or series of short paragraph answers, for example — can't score higher than a 97 percent.

Los Altos High School, it seems, does not have the same issue.

Uhlir said he grasped the problem after speaking extensively with one of the English teachers at Mountain View High who helped put together the new grading system.

Teachers who grade subjective assignments had to decide what percentage should be awarded for an A-minus, an A and an A-plus. He said teachers decided that there was no way to tell whether someone had truly earned a "perfect" score, so they decided that an A-plus grade would be recorded as a 97 percent when it is entered into the computer system that tracks student progress over the course of the year.

While some might think that the difference between a 97 percent and a 100 percent is insignificant, Phil Faillace, the current board president of the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, pointed out that it is mathematically significant.

Uhlir said the system is confusing and stressful for students who are trying to keep tabs on how they are doing in classes — such as history, languages and the arts — that use the 97 percent maximum.

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