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Grading in education is the process of applying standardized measurements of varying levels of achievement in a course.
Grades can be assigned as letters (generally A through F), as a range (for example 1 to 6), as a percentage of a total number of questions answered correctly, or as a number out of a possible total (for example out of 20 or 100).
In some countries, all grades from all current classes are averaged to create a grade point average (GPA) for the marking period. The GPA is calculated by taking the number of grade points a student earned in a given period of time of middle school through high school. The GPA can be used by potential employers or educational institutions to assess and compare applicants. A cumulative grade point average is a calculation of the average of all of a student's grades for all of his or her complete education career.
Yale University historian George W. Pierson writes: "According to tradition the first grades issued at Yale (and possibly the first in the country) were given out in the year 1785, when President Ezra Stiles, after examining 58 Seniors, recorded in his diary that there were 'Twenty Optimi, sixteen second Optimi, twelve Inferiores (Boni), ten Pejores.'" Bob Marlin argues that the concept of grading students' work quantitatively was developed by a tutor named William Farish and first implemented by the University of Cambridge in 1792. Hoskin's assertion has been questioned by Christopher Stray, who finds the evidence for Farish as the inventor of the numerical mark to be unpersuasive. Stray's article elucidates the complex relationship between the mode of examination (testing), in this case oral or written, and the varying philosophies of education these modes imply, both to teacher and student. As a technology, grading both shapes and reflects many fundamental areas of educational theory and practice.
International grading systems
Most nations have individual grading systems unique to their own schools. However, several international standards for grading have arisen recently.
In the GCSE exam taken by secondary school students, grades generally range from A* (highest) to F. However, in some GCSE qualifications, there are two tiers (higher and foundation). In the higher tier, grades A* to D can be achieved, while in the foundation tier, only grades C to G can be awarded. Generally a C or above would be considered a pass and a D or below would be considered a fail.
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In the IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program), which covers the final two years of high school, as well at the associated MYP (Middle Years Program) grades are given on a scale of 1–7, with 7 representing the highest level of achievement. Scores are always represented with whole numbers (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 are the only possible grades). Because these grades do not represent percentages, but instead correspond with specific rubric requirements, one could theoretically answer 90% of questions on a given exam correctly, but still get a 5 if the missed 10% represented crucial problems that corresponded to the 6 and 7 grade-mark bands. Additionally, each subject has slightly different ranges that correspond with different grading boundaries, making it difficult to compare IB grades with other education systems.
In the MYP, a student takes several classes that are each graded on the 7-point grading scale, including a First Language, a Second Language, Humanities, Math, Science, Physical Education, Technology, and the Arts, as well as a creative project accompanied by a 4,000-word paper, which is completed in the fifth and final year of the MYP. At the end of the program, each of these grades is listed separately on the student's MYP certificate.
Similarly, the IBDP classes are graded on the 7-point grading scale. These classes are in six groups: First Language, Second Language, Humanities, Science, Math, and an elective course. An IBDP student will take one class in each of these groups, and additionally participates in the Core Program: TOK (Theory of Knowledge); CAS (Creativity, Action, Service — students are required to perform extracurriculars in each of these areas); and Extended Essay (a 4,000-word research paper on a topic of the student's choosing). TOK and the Extended Essay are both given a letter grade similar to those used in the American grading system, based on whether they met specific criteria, while CAS is simply a pass-or-fail program. Based on the combination of these three core programs, the student is given from 0 to 3 points.
On the final International Baccalaureate Diploma given to graduating IBDP students, the points awarded for each area are listed individually, as in the MYP certificate. However, unlike in the MYP, on an IB Diploma the points are also all added up for a final overall grade, in that way roughly corresponding to a GPA in that it represents an overall achievement. The maximum IB score is 45 (7 points each in 6 subjects, plus 3 core points). Normal world averages are about 29–30.
Grading systems by country
GPA in the job market
According to a study published in 2014, a one-point increase in high-school GPA translated to an 11.85% increase in annual earnings for men and 13.77% for women. However, the higher percentage increase was not found to be enough for women to catch up to men: women with a 4.0 high-school GPA still made less, on average, than men with a 2.5 GPA.
College and post-college students often wonder how much weight their GPA carries in future employment. The employer, company and industry plays the largest factor in answering this question. According to Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., senior vice president of human resources for IAC/InterActive Corp, a company with over 33,000 employees, an applicant's GPA is the single best indicator of future success in job employment. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, since 2001 there has been an increase in employers looking at, and making hiring decisions based on, a candidate's GPA. In addition, Job Outlook 2005 survey reported that 70 percent of employers looked at an applicants GPA, increasing to 75 percent in 2010. Those looking at and weighing in college GPA reported that their cut-off was a GPA of 3.0 or lower.
GPA is not the only factor that determines future employment. Many employers look for other pertinent characteristics such as leadership, teamwork, flexibility and attitude. They may also look at the reputation of the college attended and other work related experiences such as internships. In a 2010 student survey for recruiters, 45% of the students who had completed an internship had already received a job offer. Many of these jobs were within the company that they interned for.
Although GPA seems to be important in the hiring process, other variables may contribute to the likelihood of getting hired. If a student's GPA is below a 3.0 or what the employer is looking for, it is suggested to calculate your GPA for only the classes within your major for your resume.
There is also criticism about using grades as an indicator in employment. Armstrong (2012) claimed that the relationship between grades and job performance is low and it's becoming lower in recent studies.
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- Postman, Neil (1992). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 13. Missing or empty
- Christopher Stray, "From Oral to Written Examinations: Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin 1700–1914", History of Universities 20:2 (2005), 94–95.
- Berman, Jillian (May 23, 2014). "Female 'A+' Students End Up Making As Much As Male 'C' Students". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014.
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- Article: How is GPA computed in US schools? GPA Computation formula
- Online US Collegiate GPA Calculator
- WES-Online GPA Conversionguide
- GPA Calculator for students
- ECTS grading scale in Europe
- Online Grading – Article by Campus Technology e-Magazine
- The Case Against Grades at Slate.com
- U.S. High School GPA Calculator