by Anika Mittu ’19
When MCPS unveiled the new grading policy in 2016, eliminating county finals and stating that any student receiving an A and a B as quarter grades would obtain an A as a final semester grade, critics worried about potential grade inflation. These predictions became reality: A’s comprised 54 percent of the first semester grades received at Sherwood for the 2017-2018 school year.
In terms of the number of semester A’s that resulted from differing quarterly grades, the difference between AP and Honors courses remains worth noting. While only 32 percent of the A’s obtained as final grades in Honors courses originated from the student receiving an A and a B as quarterly grades, 40 percent of the A’s received as final grades in AP courses occurred due to the same circumstances.
In fact, in the subjects of English, Math, and Science, an average of 11-percent more of the A’s received in AP classes arose from students earning inconsistent quarterly grades than in Honors classes. Social Studies remained the sole core subject that revealed virtually no difference between Honors and AP in this area, as 41 percent of semester grades in AP courses and 42 percent in Honors courses became A’s due to the advantages of the grading system.
English served as the subject with the most discrepancy between Honors and AP, and also featured the highest number of final A’s resulting from different quarterly grades at the AP level. 50 percent of the semester A’s received in AP English classes stemmed from an A and a B as quarterly grades, which remains 14 percent higher than the same statistic for Honors courses.
Evidently, in the majority of courses, AP students have more heavily relied on the new grading system in order to receive a semester grade of A than Honors students. Yet, regardless of course level, final A’s have become more likely to originate from an A for first quarter and a B for second quarter rather than vice versa. Of the semester A’s received in honors classes, 57 percent resulted from students receiving an A and then a B as quarterly grades, while a grand 68 percent of A’s achieved in AP courses occured due to the same reason.