Grading in education
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Europe and the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Grading in education is the process of applying standardized measurements of varying levels of achievement in a course. Grades can be assigned as letters (for example 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. GPAs are also calculated for undergraduate and graduate students in most universities. The GPA can be used by potential employers or educational institutions to assess and compare applicants. A cumulative grade point average (CGPA) is a calculation of the average of all of a student's total earned points divided by the possible number of points. This grading system calculates for all of his or her complete education career. Grade point averages can be unweighted (where all classes with the same number of credits have equal influence on the GPA) or weighted (where some classes are given more influence than others)..
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, to both the 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.
Grading systems by country
England and Wales
In the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam taken by secondary school students in England and Wales, grades generally range from 9 (highest) to 1 (lowest). However, in GCSE Science, Additional Science, Mathematics, Statistics, English Literature, English Language, and any Modern or Classical Foreign Language, there are two tiers (higher and foundation). In the higher tier, grades 9 to 4 can be achieved, while in the foundation tier, only grades 5 to 1 can be awarded. Generally, a 4 or above would be considered a pass and a 3 or below would be considered a fail by most institutions: for Mathematics and English Language and English Literature, and possibly Science, this would require a resit.
If an examined candidate does not score highly enough to get a grade 1, then he/she will be 'Unclassified'. This is often abbreviated to a 'U' as a final result.
Most colleges and universities in the United States award letter grades from F through A for each class taken. These marks are then used to determine an overall Grade Point Average (GPA) from 1.0 to 4.0, which is calculated using a formula. The average GPA is 3.3 at private institutions, and 3.0 at public ones.
Over the past hundred years, various colleges, such as Evergreen State College and Hampshire College have begun to eschew grades. Ivy League university Brown University does not calculate grade-point averages, and all classes can be taken on a pass/fail basis. Additionally, several high schools have additionally decided to forgo grades. A notable example is Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn which was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the number one high school in the country for having the highest percentage of graduating seniors enroll in Ivy League and several other highly selective colleges.
GPA in the United States 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 in the United States.
College and post-college students often wonder how much weight their GPA carries in future employment. In the various broadly defined professions as a whole, internships and work experience gained during one's time in college are easily the most important factors that employers consider. In order of importance, the remaining factors are choice of major, volunteering, choice of extracurricular activity, relevance of coursework, grade point average and the reputation of one's college. The relative importance of these factors do vary somewhat between professions, but in all of them, a graduate's GPA is relatively low on the list of factors that employers consider. 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 becoming lower in recent studies. The grade inflation that has plagued American colleges over recent decades has also played a role in the devaluation of grades.
- Grading on a curve
- Sudbury school, a school model for ages 4 through 18 with schools internationally with no grading or grade levels
- Salvo Intravaia (November 7, 2009). "Il liceale con la media del 9,93 "Sono il più bravo d'Italia"". repubblica.it (in Italian).
- grade point average. (n.d.). WordNet2.0 Retrieved 3 October 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/grade point average
- Warne, Russell T.; Nagaishi, Chanel; Slade, Michael K.; Hermesmeyer, Paul; Peck, Elizabeth Kimberli. "Comparing weighted and unweighted grade point averages in predicting college success of diverse and low-income college students". NASSP Bulletin. 98: 261–279. doi:10.1177/0192636514565171. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- Pierson, George (1983). "C. Undergraduate Studies: Yale College". A Yale Book of Numbers. Historical Statistics of the College and University 1701 - 1976. New Haven: Yale Office of Institutional Research. p. 310.
- Postman, Neil (1992). Technopoly The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 13.
- Christopher Stray, "From Oral to Written Examinations: Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin 1700-1914", History of Universities 20:2 (2005), 94-95.
- "Pearson qualifications - Edexcel, BTEC, LCCI and EDI - Pearson qualifications". www.edexcel.com.
- Rampell, Catherine (April 19, 2010). "Want a Higher GPA, Go to a Private College". NY Times. New York: The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- April 2, 2004 Wall Street Journal, Cover Story (Personal Journal)
- Berman, Jillian (23 May 2014). "Female 'A+' Students End Up Making As Much As Male 'C' Students". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014.
- "The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions" (PDF). The Chronicle of Higher Education. December 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Armstrong, J. Scott (2012). "Natural Learning in Higher Education". Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning.
- Katsikas, Aina (13 January 2015). "Same Performance, Better Grades". The Atlantic. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
Ultimately, grade inflation has severe consequences. Not only does it make it difficult for employers to vet the caliber of an applicant, but it also misleads students, who often use their grades as benchmarks to help diagnose their strengths and weaknesses.