Sunday, February 3, 2013

Logic of automatic 50%

On another post Anonymous wrote:

My child asked me what I thought of this in the Sunday Parade magazine.

"Ask Marilyn: I teach at a public high school. Our administrator has been pressuring us to "pad the grades." For example he says students should be given "50" no matter how low they score on an assignment. His argument is that on the five-point GPA scale A = 4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0, so the same ratio should apply to percentage grades. Many teachers at my school would be indebted to you if you could help prove him wrong." Name withheld, Baltimore.

Nice try, Mr. Administrator! First, you can't justify modifying the grading scale at your school unless other schools follow suit. (And if they do, you won't improve your school's standing.) That said, let's look at the proposal's logic.


Questioner said...


It implies that percentage grades should be the same as letter grades, as though 90 to 100 percent is an A, 80 to 89 percent is a B, 70 to 79 percent is a C, 60 to 69 percent is a D, and 50 to 59 percent is an F. But an F represents the entire range below the grade of D, which is 0 to 59 percent (or often 0 to 64 percent). A grade of 65 is a reasonable standard for passing a test. (The student has grasped about two-thirds of the material.) But with this proposal, 50 of those 65 points would be freebies when totaling test scores to determine an overall letter grade.

Anonymous said...

This explanation does not make sense.

Are points accumulated at the end of the term? Is the accumulation of pts. used to determine the grade?

This would seem, then, that the system is by points, not letter grades? Does this mean that the letter grade on any single assignment does not really count as an A unless all subsequent grades are also A's?. Is it only the final accumulation of points that constitute a grade?

Please explain how an A remains an A, if in the final analysis it is reduced to an F by one low score?

Or are you saying something quite different?

Questioner said...

Anonymous was quoting from a newspaper column that said when grades are calculated a student should not automatically receive a minimum of 50 points. So if a student received 9 grades of 95 and then got a 45 the average would be a 90; 9 grades of 95 and then got a 65 the average would be 92; 9 grades of 95 and then got a 75 the average would be 93, etc.