Show all

BCPS reviewing policy that adds middle-school scores to high school transcripts

By Karen Sorensen
For The Towson Flyer

BCPS is reviewing, and may discontinue, a new policy in which middle schoolers’ grades affect their high school transcripts.

Under a policy that started in the fall of 2016, current sixth graders in Baltimore County Public Schools will not only receive credit for high-school courses completed in middle school, their corresponding scores will also be factored into high school grade point averages (GPA) and quality point averages (QPA).

But many parents say they didn’t know about the policy and were unaware that their sixth graders’ grades could affect their high school transcripts — and, in effect, college admissions.

“At the beginning of the year, you are inundated with so much information — clubs, sports, how to help your child navigate middle school — you are trying to keep your sixth grader emotionally afloat as they make this transition. Researching the grading policy is the last thing on your list,” said Kristan Joice, who has a sixth grader in BCPS.

“If your child is performing at that high level, and that what it takes to keep your child challenged in middle school, then they should be afforded the opportunity to take and get credit for a high-school level class,” Joice said. “But if you are the average middle school student, and are not capable of doing that, it shouldn’t be held against you.”

“There are sound developmental reasons that only grades earned in high school count towards the GPA in high school.”

It’s not new that middle schoolers receive high school credits for their high-school-level classes. But until this year, their grades were not factored into their high school GPAs. The courses in question include some science, mathematics, world languages and visual arts classes. 

“The specific elective courses offered is dependent on the unique needs of students and programs in each school,” Christina Byers, senior executive director of curriculum and instruction for BCPS, said in an email.

Byers did not say what exactly sparked the change in the policy, but BCPS Chief Communications Officer Mychael Dickerson said in an email that the “provision was designed so that middle-school students enrolled in the same courses as their high-school peers could earn QPA points.”

(Unlike GPAs, which are measures of students’ performance over a specific time period, QPAs are weighted by course level. In BCPS schools, quality points are added to honors, advanced academics, gifted and talented, advanced placement, and International Baccalaureate courses.)

Jenka Sokol, the parent of a sixth grader, said she was also unaware of the change.

“Maybe I should have seen this in the grading policy, but it should have been highlighted,” Sokol said. “I like the idea that they receive credit for tackling high school work in middle school, but I think they’re too inexperienced at that classwork for it to be counted towards their high-school GPA. Sixth graders need time to learn how to do more advanced classwork.”

The new provision is on page 41 of the 2016-17 Grading & Reporting Procedures Manual.

Current seventh and eighth graders are not affected by the new policy.

The provision is now under review, Dickerson said, because “feedback has been received requesting that the Grading and Reporting Steering Committee review the development age-appropriateness of the provision.”

If the policy is changed, he said, it would retroactively affect current sixth graders, meaning their high school GPAs would not be affected by this year’s scores.

Byers noted that BCPS’ steering committee meets monthly.

“Any updates to the Grading and Procedures Manual, including this provision, will be shared once updates are finalized,” she said.

For this provision, specifically, Byers said that the committee is reviewing whether or not it would revert back to the previous practice of just awarding credit for high-school courses taken in middle school.

Parents like Belinda Blinkoff, whose son is in sixth grade, will be waiting for the results.

“There are sound developmental reasons that only grades earned in high school count towards the GPA in high school,” she said. “Where do we draw the line on the pressure placed on students?”

From BCPS: 

General, thoughts, comments, or ideas about the grading policy can be shared here.

If you would like to speak to someone directly about the system’s grading policy please contact the Department of Curriculum Operations at 443-809-3866.


Towson Flyer
Towson Flyer
News tip? Story idea? We'd love to hear from you!

Leave your comment below

2 Comments on "BCPS reviewing policy that adds middle-school scores to high school transcripts"

Email me when
Sort by:   newest | oldest
Shawn Sanders

With the grading policy change this year, and the first year of middle school, these 6th graders should not have this 6th grade year count towards high school GPA at all.

Susan Schoenfeld

Excellent article and reporting. The 2016 policy will most likely come as a surprise to most BCPS parents. Thanks for the thoughtful and well-researched article.