A petition for change

Parker Renberg (right) is the brain behind the petition to have the new 10-point grading scale apply to all students. Here, he sits in the library with his Spanish class, a class composed of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

After becoming upset with a new decision made by the North Carolina State Board of Education, Parker Renberg, a Leesville freshman, decided it was time to stand up for what he believed in.

For as long as North Carolina students can remember, schools have always used the 7-point grading scale — an a A ranges from 93-100, a B from 85-92 and so on. Next year the familiar scale will shift dramatically…but not for everyone.

The North Carolina State Board of Education tossed around the idea of potentially changing the 7-point scale to a 10-point one for many years. According to the Andrew Dunn of the Charlotte Observer, the debate persisted because changing the scale would both “simplify the system” and “level the playing field in college applications.” Negatively, it would also “[open] up questions about whether the state is lowering the bar for its students.”

In general, most students who are used to the 7-point scale would agree that switching to the 10-point would be a beneficial decision. From a students perspective, making A’s and B’s would be much easier, thus helping to inflate GPA’s — a big bonus when applying to colleges in the future.

Although yes, a 10-point scale may potentially lower student standards, the NCS Board of Education voted in favor of the switch on October 2, 2014. Here’s the unfortunate twist: the new scale will come into effect during the 2015-2016 school year, but it will not apply to current high school students. In other words, a rising freshman and a rising sophomore could both receive a 91 in the same class, but for the freshman, it would count as an A. Unfairly, the sophomore would get a B because the new scale wouldn’t apply to them.

This outraged Renberg. “It’s unfair and it’s definitely robbing some of our older students of better chances of getting into college.”

To bring attention to his concerns, he turned to a website called change.org only days after the board of education announced their decision. There, he created an online petition entitled, “Make the 10 point grading scale change apply to ALL high school students.”

It was a slow start for Renberg’s petition, but online traffic soon picked up after he was featured in the News and Observer. “At first it was small. It was about 33 people signing it a day and then it got in the paper and it went up to something like 400 people per day,” said Renberg.

As of December 10, a whopping 3,028 supporters have signed Renberg’s online petition. This is an impressive amount of signatures, considering he created it in early October. According to Renberg, social media played a huge part in helping to get the word out. He cited Twitter as his most useful resource. Social media will continue to help Renberg reach his goal of 10,000 signatures. Once he reaches this goal, Renberg plans on getting the attention of the original decision makers.

“The next step is to try and get the attention of the Board of Education and say, ‘Hey, this many people are upset about this, you should do something about it,’” said Renberg. He hopes to see the board revote on the issue and potentially “have the new change apply to everybody.”

To learn more about the administrator perspective on the changing scale, I e-mailed three Leesville teachers — none of whom felt comfortable making a definite statement. For now, the opinions are left to the students, the ones who will feel the most impact.

For those wanting to make a change in the school system or other parts of the community, Renberg highly encourages them to take action.

“If you want to make a change, the easiest way to make a change is to get a lot of people behind you, which is why petitions are a good idea. Also, since we’re in the 21st century, social media is a big help…I definitely encourage people to stand up for what they think,” said Renberg.

Hopefully if people continue to sign Renberg’s petition at a similar rate, the number of concerned individuals will catch the attention of the Board, pushing them to change the injustices of the new grading scale.



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