Letter Grades vs. Point Systems

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 26, 2014

    How do you feel about letter grades vs. the more often used (these days) point system?

    For certain assignments, I assign letter grades because they are much more qualitatively assessed (things like projects and portfolios). I feel like the feedback is a lot clearer than a point system, and is much more easily communicated to students.

    For other assignments I use point systems like for homework, and tests.

    The letter grade has confused a few parents for a few seconds, but once I explain that yes, the letter grades are in fact the letter grade they got, they understand.

    I feel like it's more akin to using terms like "Excellent" or "Needs Improvement" that are often found in rubrics.
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    How does that work into your gradebook? That's the only thing that would throw me. Our grades are all electronically calculated and something would have to go in, number-wise.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Our electronic gradebook actually has this system built into it. If I put in a letter, it automatically calculates it based on a predetermined percentage of the total point value but keeps it written as a letter..
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    So your computer says an A is a 95 and a B is an 85, for instance? Or does it say an A is a 100?
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    If the gradebook is calculating letter grades as a percentage anyway, then I don't think it's any different from a points system.

    I think it's probably confusing to both students and parents to have a mixed system like this. I would stick with the points system.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    You can define it whichever way you want. I currently have A defined as 100%, and the other grades like B defined as 89%, I think?

    You can have it accept + and - letter grades or even special symbols.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 26, 2014

    With the software we use, we can use points, percentages or letter grades, and it's all equally calculated.

    I use points for tests, quizzes (I'd like to use letter grades so they can see it when it's printed, but that means another 30 minutes of my time to figure out their grade with a calculator). I also use it for a large number of in-class work assignments. This helps me be more objective.
    I use letter grades for their participation grade and essays or writing assignments (although those are converted from points from their rubric).
    I have used percentages on posters and other projects.

    In the end it's all the same. If I was limited to one thing, I would use points.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 26, 2014

    Peregrin,

    Then if you gave out 4 B's and 1 A to a student, then the computer would say the student has an "A'. ( 1 x 100, 4 x 89)/5 =91.2%.

    That wouldn't be appropriate as a student who receives 4 Bs and 1 A should get a "B".

    Therefore, I would stick to the points--less chance for errors. You can always put the letter grade by the points when you hand back a paper. Example: 96% A (written on someone's paper).
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    For the assignments I grade in this way, it doesn't really have much affect when I weight it more towards the higher end. Plus for me the points would be more or less arbitrarily chosen anyway. I also feel like for the students, points are essentially meaningless because they don't go through the process of calculating.

    I can always change the percentages to be more accurate, or go with plus and minus letter grades for these assignments, also.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 27, 2014

    I think letter grades are a mess overall so I'd certainly think so on an individual assignment - especially since, as you said, you can define the letters to mean whatever you want.
     
  12. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    At our school, each assignment must be scored out of 100/with a percent score. We put each assignment in a different category in the grade book that weights them according to where they fall.

    I think the consistency help the kids track their grades.
     
  13. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    I personally think a grade is a letter given based on the average at the end of the term. I think psychologically it is more painful to think of getting a 55% on one assignment as it being an F, because it is better than a 0 or even a 20%, but at the end of the term an F is an F. So I think an average is a grade based on a percentage of the total amount of points earned out of the total possible for the entire term. I wouldn't wanna write a letter grade on one individual test no matter if it was a good or bad grade. Up until I was in about 6th grade, I would see an F on a 10 point assignment, and not give consideration that it was only 10 points out of 500+ for the entire course and it would kind of be more painful than just a minor bummer.
     
  14. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    I think a lot of schools take away some of the teacher's assessment expertise when they are telling them how they must grade and score each assignment. I kind of think it should be up to each subject department an approximate weight of the total grade on categories such as homework, quizzes, and tests, but that should be it to their extent of control over a teacher's grading system.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Unfortunately, many decisions about how a classroom runs are not up to the classroom teachers themselves, even if they "should" be. It can be frustrating, but it is what it is. If a teacher works in a school where decisions are made by admin, then the teacher needs to accept it and move on.
     
  16. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think there should be some limits on the freedoms granted to teachers for grading. I see way too much grade inflation for me to be happy with a free-for-all attitude. Too keep parents from complaining about their kid having the "hard" teacher, we have department-wide expectations. This means that tests will count for the same amount throughout the department and that chapter tests will have 75% of the same test questions.
     
  17. jojo808

    jojo808 Comrade

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    Oct 29, 2014

    We have 5 possible grades 4 (A), 3 (B), 2 (C), 1 (D), and 0 (F). Very few teachers use percentages--unless the lowest percentage is like 50%.
     
  18. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    When I was 12, I had a psychologist who was a former teacher, and when talking about school issues, he stated that in college one thing they never taught is how to grade and every teacher had their own style of grading and grading system that is unique. It seems that must be a thing of the past if what he told me is true about the way teaching was prior to the mid 1980s.
     
  19. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    A lot of policies administration is taking at schools are just wrong, and taking away a lot of the experimental methods teachers can use to help improve understanding. Such as being able to create their own math tests where they ask some conceptual understanding questions as opposed to just making them human calculators.

    Accepting it and moving on will have its limits for me. For example, I won't agree to a policy where I have to pass every student no matter how poor their performance is, or that I have to use a particular power point or lesson that I cannot deviate from or opt out of. So far, for field student teaching, I've created all my lessons from scratch that I felt were much better than textbook recommendations and the teachers had no problem with it.
     

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