Editorial: The start of a new school year is always an exciting time for students that is full of changes and new beginnings. That is especially true for high school students across our state who will benefit from having a new grading scale in place starting this semester.
For too long, students in our neighboring states have had an unfair academic advantage over their peers in Tennessee. That is because up until this year, we assigned grades based on a stricter 7-point scale while every other state surrounding ours used a more lenient 10-point grading scale.
Having these unequal grading scales meant that it was possible for a high school student in Tennessee to receive a “B” letter grade that would have been an “A” elsewhere. That disparity not only negatively impacted grade point averages for our students, but it also resulted in lost scholarships for some as well.
Every student deserves to be graded equitably, which is why I was proud to sponsor legislation this year that levels the playing field by implementing a 10-point grading scale in grades nine through 12 in Tennessee.
Beginning this school year, an “A” letter grade will now be assigned for scores between 90 and 100; a “B” will be between 80 and 89; a “C” will be between 70 and 70; a “D” will be between 60 and 69; and an “F” will be 59 and below.
These changes, while not retroactive, will benefit students going forward in very meaningful ways. Some students will experience an increase in their grade point average, which could help them when they are applying for college. There will also be more students who become eligible for scholarships as a result of the change. An estimated $3 million in additional Tennessee Lottery scholarships are expected to be awarded as a result of the new grading scale.
While this is a positive change that will benefit every high school student, it is vital that we continue to invest in education at every level if we want to further ensure their success. We must also value and support all of the great teachers across our state who are pivotal in making sure that happens.
All of our lives were turned upside down more than two years ago by the pandemic. While Tennessee has done a remarkable job of recovering quickly since then, it remains unclear just how long we will continue to feel the lingering effects of the disruptions to education that occurred. No matter what it takes, rest assured that my Republican colleagues and I are committed to finding the best solutions for all of our students.
I am encouraged by the improvements we have already seen with mitigating learning loss, and I feel confident that we are taking the right steps that will lead us to even better results as a state. Together, we can make sure all of our students receive the world-class education they deserve.
About: Charlie Baum represents House District 37, which includes a portion of Rutherford County. He serves as vice-chairman of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. He is also a member of the Education Administration and Joint Pensions committees along with the Finance, Ways and Means and Higher Education subcommittees. He can be reached at email@example.com or 615-741-6849.