Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pros and Cons of 0-4 Grading Scale

Recently, I have had some interesting discussions and read several articles about the 0-100 point grading scale versus the 1-4 point grading scale.  Apparently, it has become a fairly controversial topic with people passionately arguing both sides.  A synopsis of the arguments for and against changing from a 100 point scale to a 4 point scale are below.

Pros of the 1 to 4 point scale:
1) Since the letters basically go in order, making a 4 an A, a 3 a B, a 2 a C and a 1 a D correlates better.  Proponents of the 4 point scale argue that an F should not cover a 60 point spread, as is seen in the 100 point scale.
2) Students feel that it is easier to make up lost ground on a 4 point scale than a 100 point scale.
3) Not giving students a 0 eliminates the use of a grade to punish students.  Instead, students are given incompletes.  That way, students learn that the expectation that they master the objectives is an imperative and they can't just accept the 0 and let it go.
4) The 4 point scale correlates to how most qualitative rubrics are scored.

Cons of the 1-4 point scale:
1) If you have a grading program that automatically calculates percentages, the four point scale will still be converted to a 100 point scale in the end anyway.
2) Teachers who feel that the even increments of the letter grades is not reflected by the 100 point scale can give students number grades instead of letter grades.
3) Giving students zeros for not turning in assignments teaches them that there is a consequence when they do not complete an assignment.  Students need to learn that there is a correlation between their actions and the outcome.  This encourages an internal locus of control.  This also prepares them for the "real world" where they will be expected to meet deadlines, complete assignments, etc.
4) The 100 points scale allows a more accurate assessment of how much of the assignment they did and/or did correctly.

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