RADFORD – Against the recommendation of the superintendent, the Radford City School Board voted in favor of making a change to the school system’s grading scale for the start of the second semester.
At the school board’s Jan. 10 meeting, Vice-Chair Dr. Jody Ray made a motion to change the school division’s current grading scale – which makes a 40 percent the lowest grade a student can receive for an assignment even if the student does not complete the assignment at all – and return the low end of the scale to a zero. The change from a zero to 100 scale to a modified scale was made during the time schools were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Board Member Jane Swing was the sole no-vote among the five board members and said she agreed with going back to a zero-100 scale, just not in the middle of the school year.
“I can see going back to zero,” she said. “My concern is doing it in the middle of the year.”
“When you change the rules in the middle of the game, that’s unfair,” Swing said later in the discussion.
Radford City Schools Superintendent Robert Graham agreed.
“I would like the minutes to reflect that I did not recommend this,” he said. “This is like being in the middle of the basketball game and moving the three-point line back.”
Graham said the change could affect graduation rates and could have other unintended negative consequences.
Board member Chris Calfee, who said at the meeting he campaigned and was elected on a platform of this change being made, said he had “absolute faith in our teachers to do the right thing” to help students achieve under the return to the zero – 100 scale. He said Radford’s teachers are exemplary educators who can help students succeed with the change.
Dr. Matt Hurt, executive director of the Comprehensive Instructional Program, was available to the board via Zoom at the meeting and said he recommends making such changes in a new school year, rather than mid-year.
Board Member Gloria Boyd, a retired teacher, said she believes teachers should make every effort to work with students to help them get their work done.
“I don’t oppose extensions on deadlines or asking to take a test again,” she said. “But the credit for zero effort is a sticking point for me.”
Ray, Boyd, Calfee and Chair Jenny Riffe voted in favor of the return to the zero – 100 grade scale.
The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m.