State BOE approves policy for changes to graduation credits, grading scale

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State BOE approves policy for changes to graduation credits, grading scale
By Carrie Hodousek, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education approved a policy Wednesday that deals with changes to graduation credits and the current grading scale for high school students.

The board passed Policy 2510 after taking nearly 1,3000 comments from a 30-day public comment period.

The policy includes reducing credits required to graduate high school from 24 to 22. Brian Dougherty, a teacher at Ritchie County High School, told the board he’s concerned about the change.

“Lowering both the grading scale and the required credits to graduate will only give students less incentive put forth an adequate effort,” he said. “I have to ask: What is our desired outcome? Do we prefer a larger quantity of graduates or a higher quality of graduates?”

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said changing the graduation credit requirement could lead to a number of problems.

“My major concern though is the flexibility that’s given to the counties, which I think is great, but I don’t want to see us in an opportunity where students can graduate early and cause us to lose funding which in turn will cause us to lose teaching positions,” Lee said.

Social studies credits required for graduation will stay at four credits. An earlier proposal included reducing those credits to three.

On Wednesday, Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, urged the board to keep the four credits in place.

“Not only is the Legislature member-driven, but we are member-driven as well and our members are really concerned about the social studies credits, so if that stays at four we’d appreciate it,” she said.

The policy also includes changing the grading scale to make 0-59 an F, 60-69 a D, 70-79 a C, 80-89 a B and 90-100 an A.

The current grading scale says a 0-64 is an F, 65-74 is a D, 75-84 is a C, 85-92 is a B and 93-100 is an A.

High school students may also receive physical education credit for classes like marching band, show choir and dance.

Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine said the changes will allow more flexibility for counties in scheduling and personalizing the education of each student.

“They will have the flexibility to determine a lot. They can accept marching band as a credit for whatever if they so choose. We’re offering just policy structure that enables that,” he said.

“They take a look at what kind of requirements do they want — what’s best for their students in that area. What do the parents want? What does the community want? They can certainly exceed, what I think, is a high quality threshold for graduation credits.”

Board members approved a motion to the policy to allow Superintendent Paine to create a committee to review the policy in an ongoing basis. Board member Debra Sullivan was appointed to serve on the committee.

The changes take effect July 1.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the approval of the Every Student Succeeds Act in West Virginia and Minnesota.

According to a news release, West Virginia plans to reduce the number of non-proficient students, overall and for each subgroup, in half by 2030 and plans to provide Local Education Agency access to evidence-based interventions and professional development based on performance on individual indicators within the Statewide Accountability System. This is so that any school struggling with a single indicator receives support.

Superintendent Paine said the intent for the state’s ESSA plan is “to be a catalyst for economic growth and development in West Virginia.”

“Our goal is to ensure that every student is provided the opportunity to be successful after graduating high school in their chosen career and/or post-secondary endeavors. Our comprehensive system will individualize support and capitalize on a network of education partnerships, while supporting Gov. Jim Justice’s focus on education and economic development,” Paine said in a statement.