Zero Will Be the New 50%: Skyline to Change Grading System this Fall


A look at how our grades will be structured. Credit: Skyline Administration

NEWS STORY By Natalia Murrell

Starting next school year, we can expect Skyline High School’s grading system to look a lot different from this year. Starting in August, our grades will be on a 4-point scale, so it can translate more easily to our Grade Point Average (GPA). 

As the year comes to a close, students and teachers have been wondering whether or not this 50% rule would continue into next year. And while this rule will be revoked starting next August, what many students and teachers did not expect was an entirely new grading system. 

The 50% rule that was implemented this year at Skyline has been controversial. This rule gave students the benefit that if they did not complete an assignment, their grade for the assignment was 50% instead of zero. This rule was intended to motivate more students, so they are not discouraged by glaring zeroes, but many have found it problematic, saying that it gives a free pass to students who don’t attempt to do their work.

The Skyline Post interviewed SLC Principal Casey Elmore to get clarification on what changes to expect.

What is the grading system going to look like?

It essentially looks like the GPA grading system. We will no longer have a percentage system, we’ll just see the letter grades. 

What exactly is changing?

First, the zero percent grade is back. Missing and incomplete work will be put in as a zero, no longer 50%. 

Second, there will be fewer increments within the grading scale. No more 0-100. In a 0-100 scale, mathematically there are many more chances to get an E than an A, and Skyline wanted to change that. The reason: the fewer increments you have, the more accurate the grading becomes.

What sparked this big change within our system?

Skyline is working towards ensuring that grades are based purely on what you know, not on how hard you work and not on your behavior.  The Skyline faculty has been reading the book Grading For Equity to support their learning. 

Is this for all AAPS schools or just Skyline?

Skyline is the only school doing this so far. Huron is planning to make some changes because they are reading the same book as Skyline, but nothing is confirmed as of this article’s publication, June 2023.

What are the end goals of this?

(1) Equity: for a grading system that offers a more equal chance for all students to be motivated and successful, and (2) for grades to truly represent skills and content knowledge. 

Why have most students not heard about this grading system as this year comes to a close?

The school is planning on not announcing the policy until this August, meaning that students do not have much prep time to get used to this new system. 


What do students want?  

The upcoming 4.0 scaled grading policy is a big adjustment for students that could make or break their academic year. A lot of students are nervous about how this could affect their transcripts. Many students feel blindsided about this policy. The majority of students may be confused about why our system has to change.

We want full transparency about this system. We don’t see what was wrong with our original grading system and why we had to change it. We should not only understand how the system works but also why we need it. 

We want to know more about why effort is not a factor in our grades, despite being an important factor in our skills.  

We need to be informed about the benefits. We’ve heard that this is for equity but we haven’t been told a clear cut answer on how exactly this is equitable. 

We believe that we should know about this long before the school year starts. We can’t just count on an email in August. We would like to know this sooner. 

Remaining unanswered questions:

The administration plans on sharing this new system at the start of next school year. We are hoping to learn a lot about our grades for the next year. We want to be sure that the transition to a completely new system is smooth and easy. 

That being said, we still have some questions.  

We want to learn by next year:  

  • How will mastery work with this new system?
  • Why do Ann Arbor Public High Schools have different grading policies? Can you get an A+ at Pioneer and Huron but not at Skyline? Does it matter, mathematically?
  • How will this make the school more equitable? 
  • Are teachers being trained for this new system? 
  • How will the weighting of different assignments work?
  • How are teachers going to grade work with this system?
  • How is the scale actually different from the past?
  • How will students know when their grade is at a level where they would want to re-do an assignment? 
  • How will Powerschool work with this scale?   
  • How can we, the students, get more involved within our school? How can we make a change?

We would like students to have a bigger voice on school issues, especially on how OUR grades will look.