The issue of changing the grading scale used by Elizabethtown Independent Schools resurfaces every few years. I have been on the board of education for almost nine years and I believe this is the third time parents have brought this issue before the board.

I always welcome feedback and constructive criticism from parents, educators and the community. However, I am not in favor of changing our current grading scale.

Why do I want to continue a more rigorous grading scale? Because, as a school board member, I pay close attention to a few metrics and these are not always the numbers that the public and press like to highlight. Every school district in Kentucky now sends a large portion of its graduates on to higher education; however, few districts have a good record of their students remaining in college and ultimately becoming graduates. Elizabethtown Independent is an exception to that trend.

We have a higher percentage of our students who survive past the first year, and ultimately moving forward and graduating college within five years, than most districts in our area and one of the highest in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Making sure every student is “college and career ready” shouldn’t mean that your students can just get into college – rather, it should mean that they can stay in college and graduate.

Sure, there are socioeconomic reasons we could and should take into consideration when discussing college readiness, but the main reason I believe we have successful students who make it past that critical first year of college and on to graduation is that when they were in high school, they had to work hard to get that A or B. Frankly, I had to work hard to get Cs!

Elizabethtown doesn’t have “better” teachers. There are amazing educators in every school district. We don’t have “better” facilities. What makes Elizabethtown Independent special can’t be seen from the outside.

Our district always has had a proud tradition of going against convention. We have never wanted to be like other school districts and this is one reason why people still choose to live within our small district’s borders or pay tuition for their children to attend.

Every year, EIS and Hardin County Schools have a lottery for open spots in our district for families who live outside our district.

Usually, there are only five to 10 spots available and the number is limited by the contract that we have between our two districts. We have hundreds of families apply.

The families who are drawn don’t have to pay tuition for any of their children to attend EIS. Believe me when I say parents are extremely happy when we call them to let them know that their names were drawn.

There is no lottery for students who live in E’town to go to other school districts.

I can’t think of a way to disservice our college-bound students more than to send them off to college thinking that they are great students because of an inflated grade-point average, only to discover they need to work much harder in college to earn the grades that they became accustomed to getting in high school.

I believe that sets students up for failure and contributes to a false belief that they are not “good enough” to finish college.

Having higher expectations, smaller class sizes and a host of other factors all contribute to making our district unique and we should never shrink from what our mission has always been – to graduate students who are truly prepared to take on the challenges of the world.

Matt Wyatt is a member of the Elizabethtown Board of Education. He can be reached at wyattgroup@gmail.com.

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