David Crane spent six years as a high school teacher and coach in Georgia, where the schools grade on a 10-point scale.
“Certainly I saw a difference over there in the number of kids that were able to qualify for certain scholarships, whether that was academic or athletic money,” said Crane, a physical education teacher and the head football coach at Greenville High School for the past two years.
“To get back on a level playing field with our surrounding states is obviously a huge thing for these high school kids.”
That could happen as early as the 2016-17 school year.
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Molly Spearman, the state’s superintendent of education, addressed the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association earlier this week in Charleston and discussed the move from a 7- to a 10-point scale.
Department of Education spokesman Dino Teppara said Spearman will present a proposal to the State Board of Education for its review this spring or summer. The uniform grading policy working group is still putting together the proposal, so Teppara could not comment on what grade levels would be affected. Its recommendations have not been finalized.
According to the 7-point scale, 93-100 is an A, 85-92 a B, 77-84 a C, 70-76 a D and 69 and below an F.
A 10-point scale has 90 to 100 as an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C and 60-69 a D.
When Spearman spoke to the athletic administrators, she mentioned that she had heard from football coaches Dabo Swinney of Clemson University and Will Muschamp of the University of South Carolina regarding the grading scale.
Hillcrest High School athletic director Tommy Bell, who was in the audience when Spearman spoke Monday, said because of the NCAA’s sliding scale used in recruiting, South Carolina has been at a disadvantage.
According to the scale, a student with a higher grade-point average (GPA) needs a lower SAT score to qualify for a scholarship and vice versa.
“The kid who made an 83 in South Carolina, that was a C. The kid who made an 83 in Georgia, that was a B,” Bell said. “You get that kid who has a low (cumulative) GPA, and he has to make a higher SAT score.
“So for years, they’ve always said that there have been tons of kids in the state of South Carolina that, ‘Hey, we would have loved to recruit the kid, but we couldn't wait around to see if he could qualify.’ ”
Georgia has had a 10-point scale for many years. North Carolina adopted the 10-point scale for the 2015-16 school year.
“If I was a kid and I was playing, and I had B’s and C’s in this state and those might be A’s and B’s in another state, it definitely puts us at a disadvantage as far as GPA requirements and your core GPA and what the NCAA requires you to have to get recruited,” said Eastside High School football coach Steve Wilson.
Wilson spent 26 years as a college coach, 21 of those at Furman University.
“If you saw 80 to a 90, you assumed the kid had a B in that class, and that was kind of how you figured their core (GPA),” Wilson said. “The way it’s set up here, it’s much harder to figure what their core is or if they meet the NCAA standards because of our scale.”
A 10-point grading scale would affect more than just student-athletes. Students in general could benefit in the way of college and scholarship opportunities.
“We are excited about the possibility of having our state’s grading policies more closely aligned to the profile of the South Carolina graduate and to other states’ grading policies,” said Greenville County school district spokesman Oby Lyles.
Crane said the fact that it’s broad-based is what’s important to him as a parent.
“Obviously the athletic side gets a lot of press,” he said. “But this is a great thing for all kids, not just student-athletes. I saw a lot of kids qualify for some academic money that would not have been able to do so here in the state of South Carolina. That’s a point I hope people realize.
“There’s a lot of excitement in everyone I’ve talked to about it. They’re very supportive of it and very excited about it.”