Some B's worth more than A's Weighted grading: High-school students deserve more credit when they take harder courses.

August 07, 1998

HIGH SCHOOLS in Howard County believe in egalitarianism. You won't find any valedictorians or salutatorians being put on a pedestal at graduation time. Students are recognized for academic performance, but no delineation is made between those who took the harder courses and those who did not.

When the top 5 percent according to grade-point average is asked to stand during honors ceremonies, many of the best students remain seated. That "B" they got in an honors or advanced placement course disqualified them. They can't help but wonder whether they should have taken an easier class to pad their average.

Howard's Board of Education is considering a proposal that would help students make class course decisions. Under the plan, students' class rank could be weighted. They would receive extra points for taking upper-level courses. Students applying for college scholarships might have a better chance of competing when class rank is a deciding factor.

Other school systems across the country weight class rankings, including about half of those in Maryland. Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County do it. Harford County schools have done it for 10 years.

Baltimore County has a program that allows students to choose to send their weighted or an unofficial non-weighted class rank to colleges. The Carroll County system adopted an optional weighted grading system in May.

There are fears that a weighted grading system would taint regular courses as less worthy. But that argument isn't fair to students who tackle harder courses that require additional work and special projects. Students should be challenged to work hard. Counselors should be able to help them match their abilities with the right classes. Weighted rankings make sense.

Pub Date: 8/07/98

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