Opinion: LVUSD needs a standardized grading system

At UCLA, an A is any score between 93% and 97%, according to one offered grading option. At CSUN, an A is anywhere between 94% and 100%. However, unlike these schools, there is no set cut-off for grades at CHS, and neither Calabasas nor Agoura’s grading policies factor in pluses and minuses, meaning a student with over 100% in a class gets the same four GPA points as someone with 90%. 

Revisions to LVUSD grading policy would ensure district-wide standardization and make the already tedious college application process easier for students.

Since different colleges use the plus and minus system with varying grading scales, the GPA a student has at CHS is not necessarily the GPA colleges will use. Both UCLA and CSUN may use a plus and minus scale, but the cut-off for each university is different.

“Here at CHS, we don’t do pluses and minuses,” said Academic Counselor David Rivas. “Our transcript is like a guidebook, not a rulebook. It doesn’t mean that’s 100% what your GPA is everywhere you go.”

Currently, students have to check each school’s policy to determine what their GPA is for that specific school. Some schools are more selective in accepting students, and there is nothing wrong with certain colleges having more rigorous grading scales than others. However, colleges that use a plus/minus grading system have scales set for what counts as a plus or a minus. LVUSD does not have such a policy.

“There isn’t a hard and fast cutoff,” said Rivas. “I would say if you’re going to do pluses and minuses, they should basically be equal. So 90 to 93 would be A minus, and maybe 94 to 97 would be a regular A, and then 98 [and up] would be an A plus.”

As Rivas explained, each CHS teacher is free to set his or her own grading scale regarding pluses and minuses. Since teachers largely have the freedom to determine the difficulty of their classes, this system seems as though it would be best. A teacher who knows that his or her class is fairly difficult could make the cut-off lower for pluses or minuses to better reflect students’ grades. 

However, this system can also be detrimental to students since the scale for one teacher could be completely different than that of another teacher covering the same class. For example, 98% could be an A plus in one class and an A in another. 

Even though this does not make a huge difference for official grades while students are still in high school, this scale-less system could be harmful when applying to colleges. According to CHS College and Career Counselor Nancy Yumkas, all of the UCs request a transcript with pluses and minuses, while CSUs solely ask for the letter grade. The lack of definition in regard to LVUSD’s grading system, combined with the different ways colleges view transcripts, only leads to confusion. 

“I think there should be a set grading scale set by either someone in the district or someone in the office that all the teachers abide by,” said CHS junior Ray Mathur. “This way, there would be no debate on what a plus or a minus is.”

Students are put at a disadvantage since teachers are free to make their own plus and minus grading scale. Regardless of what scale is used, LVUSD needs a district-wide policy for pluses and minuses that includes a set cut-off for where a minus begins and a plus ends.

The best thing for LVUSD to do is to officially match the UCs’ grading scales, similar to how both class credit systems correlate. By adopting a solution such as the UC plus and minus scale, CHS would condition students to college grading and prevent further confusion about grade cut-offs.