Chino Valley High School seeks to lower grade standards

Chino Valley High School Principal Jeff St. Clair is asking the Chino Valley Unified School District Governing Board to make a "D" a passing grade and to reduce graduation requirements.

Currently, he said, CVHS students at must get 90-100 percent for an "A"; 80-89 percent for a "B"; 70-79 percent a "C"; 60-69 percent a "D"; and less than 60 percent is an "F." However, to pass a course a student must get at least a "C," because students get no credit for a "D" or "F."

At Bradshaw Mountain High School, Dean Slaga, Humboldt Unified School District assistant superintendent, said its grading system is the same, except a "D" is a passing grade.

Under the new grading proposal, St. Clair said students at CVHS must get 95-100 percent for an "A" (4.0); 90-94.99 percent a "A-minus" (3.5); 85-89.99 percent a "B" (3.0); 80-84.99 percent a "B-minus" (2.5); 75-79.99 percent a "C" (2.0); 70-74.99 percent a "C-minus" (1.5); 65-65.99 percent a "D" (1.0); and 0-64.99 percent an "F" (0.0).

St. Clair said by increasing a "D" to 65-65.99 percent and accepting it for credit will increase the high school's graduation rate, align credit given with that of other schools in the tri-cities, and reduce eligibility issues.

He estimates that with the grading system change, 6-9 percent more students will receive credit that counts toward graduation.

Additionally, St. Clair said, 10-12 percent more students will be eligible to participate in athletic events.

Slaga said at BMHS students can participate in sports or extra curricular activities if they have a 2.0 or "C" average. They can have a "D" in one class as long as their total grade point average is 2.0, he said.

Board member Paul Mitchell said if a student gets a "D" in a course, he's not ready for the next level.

Board member Bob Kaecker said six years ago a lot of controversy erupted when the board raised the bar from a "D" to a "C" to graduate. "Now you're recommending lowering the bar to 65 percent (a "D"), when we worked hard to get the bar up to 70 percent. By lowering it parents will send their kids to CVHS as they only need 65 percent to graduate. I have a problem going along with that," he said.

St. Clair responded, "I've got people leaving Chino High in their junior year because of needing a "C" to graduate."

Superintendent Duane Noggle reminded the board that talking about grades is always controversial.

Board Chairman Travis Bard said the school needs to look at the students' grades versus other area high schools. In them, an "A" starts at 90 percent, not 95 percent as proposed at CVHS.

This grading system, he said, will penalize students going for scholarships. Bard said, "A 95 percent for an 'A' may chase out 50 percent of your top kids."

Michael Fogel, CVHS assistant principal, said they raised the bar six years ago because they attach grades to the student's Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards' performance. A student needed 70 percent to pass AIMS then, while today a student needs only 58 percent, he said.

St. Clair said to bring the school's graduation requirements in line with the state's, CVHS asks to be able to cut the units needed from 23 to 22.

To do this, he said, they are combining World History and Geography, and Health and Physical Education.