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Grading Students - Policies and Practices

A frequently asked question of:
The Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation [ERIC/AE]
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Example queries:

Please provide information regarding standards for grading students, e.g., "A" means x standard, "B" means y standard, including the use of plus- and minus- grades.

What are the grading practices of other elementary/secondary school teachers?

What recommendations are available for appropriate grading policies in higher education?

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A criticism of numerical grades is that they imply a level of precision that is not there due to a lack of perfect reliability in observation or tests. For example, a score of "85" is not necessarily better than a score of "84", especially if there are relatively few observations or few score points. Accordingly, we advocate a coarser grade scale, such as a letter grade scale, for scores for individual classes.

Commentary by Larry Rudner, Director, ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment & Evaluation

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[Topical Overviews in Full-Text]

Grading Students [1995] - by Lawrence H. Cross
A Glossary of Measurement Terms [1989] - by ERIC Clearinghouse on Tests, Measurement, and Evaluation
Using Grading Guides To Shape and Evaluate Business Writing [1996] - by Nancy Hyslop

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Dynamic (i.e., Live) Searches of the ERIC Documents Database

The following search options employ the electronic Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors as the search interface for the ERIC documents database. If you would like to ensure a current bibliography of ERIC documents for any of the given sub-topics, then we highly recommend that you pursue this option. Also, once you have selected a search option, you may edit the given strategy to introduce concepts into the search to accommodate your specific needs; or, you can build an entirely new search strategy in the ERIC Search Wizard. For a short, highly selective bibliography, please see the Selected ERIC Documents Citations below.

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Grading in Elementary Secondary Education

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Grading in Higher Education

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Grading Special Needs Students

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Grade Inflation

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Weighted Grades

Selected ERIC Documents Citations

Although less current and less plentiful than the Dynamic Search option (above), these selective bibliographies present ERIC documents citations that have been preselected on the basis of the thoroughness and/or authority and/or uniqueness that they reflect.

Instructions for ERIC Documents Access

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[Check your local library or bookstore for access]

N.B. Major bibliographic resources may have been cited in the bibliography of ERIC documents, above.
Airasian, Peter W. Classroom Assessment. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

Chapter 9 of Airasian's book (cited above) is entitled "Grading Pupil Performance" and presents sample grading scales as well as explanations of the rationales for their usage.

Chase, Clinton I. Contemporary Assessment for Educators. New York: Longman, 1999.

Chapter 19 of Chase's book (cited above) is entitled "Assigning Grades" and covers "Types of Grades", "The Bases for Grading", and "Combining Marks to Produce Grades", among other sub-topics.

Gronlund, Norman E. Assessment of Student Achievement. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998.

Chapter 9 of Gronlund's book (cited above) is entitled "Assigning Grades". In addition to coverage of "Selecting the Basis for Grading" and "Combining Data for Grading", the chapter covers "Guidelines for Effective and Fair Grading".

Laska, John A., and Tina Juarez. Grading and Marking in American Schools: Two Centuries of Debate. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1992.

Popham, W. James. Classroom Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999.

Chapter 15 of Popham's book (cited above) is entitled "Evaluating Teaching and Grading Students" and covers grading approaches as well as the articulation and weighting of grading criteria.

Stiggins, Richard J., and Nancy Faires Conklin. In Teachers' Hands: Investigating the Practices of Classroom Assessment. SUNY Series in Educational Leadership. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Walvoord, Barbara E., and Virginia Johnson Anderson. Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.

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K12ASSESS-L Home Page
K-12ASSESS-L is a topical electronic discussion forum focusing on issues related to educational assessment in grades K-12. K12ASSESS-L is a place for local assessment personnel to share and obtain resources, ideas, and support. Visit the homepage linked here to subscribe as well as to view the K12ASSESS-L archive of postings.

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Publication Notes:
Created: June 4, 1997
Last Revised: April 22, 1999

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