National Fire Academy Changing Grading System

EMMITSBURG, MD -- With scrutiny of educational institutions increasing across the country, the National Fire Academy (NFA) is changing the way students are graded.

Students will be held to a higher standard, and their work will undergo increased scrutiny, explained Dr. Denis Onieal, acting deputy director of the U.S. Fire Administration.

NFA officials are working on establishing a grading system that will likely include a letter grade similar to ones received at colleges and universities. Right now, students simply get a pass or fail.

"It will be easier for students to transfer and get credit for the course should they decide to do so," Onieal said.

The NFA receives an annual review from the American Council on Education (ACE), and Onieal says he welcomes it. Officials choose several courses, and go over every aspect. Since the majority have no fire background, Onieal says the scrutiny is very rigorous.

The most recent review occurred last month, and the team focused on 22 courses. Administrative changes will be made on those first, he said, adding that eventually all NFA classes will be modified.

"We will have to justify criteria used to reward grades. We need a way to measure that the student has met the objectives."

Instructors will be monitoring students' performances to insure they understand what is expected of them.

Onieal said ACE is tightening its grip as the number of fraudulent colleges grows, and degrees are being issued to non-deserving students. "In some cases, people have defrauded the government, which is criminal."

He added that the NFA and its instructors welcome the change as it will benefit the students and the citizens they protect.