Can the school convert letter grades to numerical grades?

When some students moved into Comal ISD from out of state they came with a transcript that recorded their grades with a letter: A, B, C, etc.  Comal converted those to numerical grades, “using [Comal’s] procedures for such situations.”  The parents complained that the resulting grades were inaccurate and carried their appeal to the Commissioner.

The Commissioner ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to hear this appeal. The parents alleged various theories, but none that amounted to a violation of the “school laws” of this state, which is the only thing the Commissioner has jurisdiction over.  The most interesting part of the decision comes in the commentary:

Because grades are so important to colleges, one may wonder why an appeal to the Commissioner would not be permitted in this case.  In the present case, the issue is how grades from a school that used a different grading scale should be valued when translated into Respondent’s [Comal ISD] grading scale. This is a question where there can be a reasonable disagreement.  Perhaps those best able to resolve this question are those who have been entrusted with creating a school district grading policy under T.E.C. section 28.0216.  The Legislature specifies certain requirements for school district grading policies. There are standards for when a classroom teacher assigns a grade. But the Legislature made no requirements concerning grades when students transfer from other school districts.

In other words: there is no state law on this.  The Commissioner suggests that this is a matter of policy that should be decided by those who “have been entrusted” with responsibility under T.E.C. 28.0216.  That section calls on the “school district” to adopt a grading policy.  Presumably that is done by the school board, which very likely delegates some of the details to administrators.

This one is Parents v. Comal ISD, decided by the Commissioner on September 6, 2018.  It’s Docket No. 033-R10-02-2018.


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