New 4-Point Grading System Impacts Students


Grace Rickey

The new 4-point grading system at Novato High has led many students to question whether it’s now harder to succeed academically. Although the system was intended to be a more accurate way of grading, which strives to eliminate differences in Aeries between teachers, students are now inquiring whether the new system simply makes it more rigorous. 

One of the main issues regarding the 4-point system is that each teacher defines the numbers differently. Between the infrequencies in the system and inconsistencies among each teacher choosing to use it, students have started to create upheaval regarding the issue.  

Novato High science teacher Aaron Fix explained that he only applies the 4-point system on his tests, as he believes the system aids freshman in passing his biology class. Instead of  making the student unable to earn a good grade in his class for the rest of the semester, he puts a minimum threshold of 50 percent in his grading scale (equivalent to a 0-1 in the 4-point scale), which is still failing but the student becomes closer to being able to pass the class. Fix claims to use it in a way that benefits his students, however, he does understand that AP teachers can use the system differently. 

AP Euro teacher, Jason Searle, described his feelings toward the system and why he chose to adopt it.

“I love the 4-point grading system,” Searle said. “I think it’s far more accurate. The 100-point system is incredibly inaccurate in regards to grading because it’s highly subjective to the way different teachers grade in different classes. The difference between a 70 percent in one class versus a 79 percent in another class might be the same exact work. Whereas in a 4-point scale, there’s a lot less margin for error. So it’s easy to determine whether somebody is demonstrating a 3 on a proficiency scale because they’ve done certain things like accomplished vocabulary and learning targets. With the 4-point scale, it really works the best if teachers align the way they grade, and they say a 3 looks exactly like this. It’s a little easier to grade because if you don’t meet the criteria, it’s very easy to say that this isn’t a 4.”

Sophomore Aidan King is very passionate about his dislike of the new system and voiced his critiques. 

“For any other tests, if I thoroughly study, I’m confident that I can get an A. However, in my classes that use the 4-point system, like math, I can study for hours and still only get a 2.5,” King said. “With the 100-point grading system, if you really study, you should be able to get close to a 100 percent. However, the 4 is often things you haven’t done yet or even seen before, so unless your studying material in advance, there’s no possible way to get a perfect score. I used to consider myself to be smart, but I feel like the 4-point grading system is making it harder for students to get good grades which then is making it far more difficult to get into college.”

Searle responded to the students’ concerns and looked forward with the new system.

“I think the biggest adjustment and the reason for everyone’s concerns is that there’s a lot of students that grew up with the 100-point scale,” Searle said. “They have to adjust to the 4-point scale and it’s like you’re moving the goal post. It’s like ‘this used to be an A and now it’s not an A.’ Me, as an AP teacher, I definitely find it better because I find that my students have to demonstrate true excellence to get an A rather then just be kinda okay. The old system was more easily manipulated.”