Fairfax Co. parents upset over new grading scale

Parents in Fairfax County are upset about a new grading scale. 

According to some parents, it started as a pilot program at schools like West Potomac High School. But now, they are seeing changes at other schools in the Commonwealth. 

The new changes they say make it "easier" for students to get higher grades. 

One parent whose son just graduated from West Potomac High School says the program is basically "inflating grades," and it doesn't prepare students for the real world after graduation.

"I want to have faith in Fairfax County Public Schools," Kim Putens said. 

Puten's son was a student at West Potomac High when the district launched the pilot grading program in 2021. 

"The whole idea was to make it equitable," Putens explained. 

According to Fairfax County Public Schools, one of the reasons the program was designed is to give students additional "opportunities to demonstrate proficiency." 

For example, students get unlimited test retakes and can turn their homework in later. 

Glenn Miller, a Langley High School parent, said, "Allowing people to turn in work late creates the impression on kids that when they get out in the real world they don't have to meet deadlines."

Miller said his child's school district isn't being transparent about the changes to grading. They found out through emails from a Freedom of Information Act request by a parent. 

"The most perhaps scary one is that a minimum score on an exam is 50," Miller said. "If you don't turn it in you get a 50. If you get everything wrong you get a 50."

In a statement to FOX 5, Fairfax County Public Schools said their goal is to "promote grading practices that cultivate continuous student engagement in their learning and to ensure that student grades reflect evidence of learning … We aim to ensure that grades are based on demonstrated student achievement, knowledge, and skill proficiency. We utilize practices such as reassessment and reasonable late-work policies to ensure that students have positive paths forward to demonstrating their learning."

"What I find at the end of the school year is that my son didn't learn anything, and he was in four AP classes," Putens said. "He didn't learn a thing."

READ MORE: Students with disabilities suspended more, according to Fairfax County Public Schools investigation

She says instead of lowering the expectations, the District needs to give students the tools they need to succeed. 

"It should be academic excellence for all lets raise everybody to the same standard, let's give everybody the chance to be excellent because I know they can be." 

The school district says they made these changes based on stakeholder feedback and will continue to work to improve their grading practices. 

Fairfax County Parents Association told FOX 5 in a statement: "This sounds like another unresearched experiment being run on our kids that is the product of a discussion where opposing views were shut out and interest groups citing thin empirical evidence reached a consensus.

"When you discard points and grades, you also discard objective measures of learning, thereby allowing people to claim learning has happened when it has not.  It once again raises the question of whether FCPS is committed to providing students with a high-quality, rigorous education, or whether their goal is simply making it look like students are receiving a high-quality, rigorous education. 

"The other troubling thing is the concerted effort to avoid letting parents know that a change in grading has occurred or is occurring. If the new grading system was so spectacular, one would think a school system would not hesitate to share the information with parents."

At an upcoming meeting, FOX 5 was told that parents plan on addressing the board about this pilot program.