Numbers Don't Count

The anxiety before getting a test back can overwhelm you. From the sweat on your brow to the tingle in your toes as the teacher hands back the tests.

You see the frustration and remorse in the students faces who were first to get them back. You become even more scared and stressed. The teacher begin’s walking right toward you and hands you a crisp white paper. You hesitantly search for the grade and find something awful; a “3”. Standard based grading is less efficient for a student’s understanding, learning, and achievement.

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Standards-based grading confuses students. How? Standards-based evaluation systems typically use a four-point scale, with a “1” being “Not achieving the standard” and a “4” “Exceeding the standard.” What could be confusing about something so simple? Well, with only a four-point gradient, there is little margin for error which means there is vast space for growth. “I think standards-based grading doesn’t have a lot of purpose because being a 3 is not a motivator,” a local Vermont student says. When interviewed, most students equate a 3 out of 4 as 75%. That’s just basic math.

The common coreto get a 3 means 100%. Does this mean that they can’t get a 4? In standard based grading there is not much room for improvement. There are 13 different letter grades including plus’ and minus’ but there are only 4 in Standard based grading. Let’s say you are average, 3, your doing well andall of a sudden you che3ck your grades and you see a wretched puke yellow bar with a 2.7.

You continue getting 3’s but your grade only changed by .1 points! “I used to have A’s and B’s but then we switched to standard-based grading, and now my grades are 2’s and 3’s.” another local student of Vermont commented along with many. All teachers have their different ways of teaching, motivating, disciplining and even grading. Some teachers give a 4 only if there was a bonus problem or an extra credit. That means that you would have to get a grade percentage higher than 100%! Most students today can barely keep up to the average which defeats the purpose of grading.

“If grading doesn’t guide students toward excellence, it’s time for something different.” Letter-based grading is a familiar concept and is easier to process and improve. When you bring your grades home your parents probably want to see it. Once they see that you have 2’s and 3’s, they will immediately turn it into a letter. If they see a letter grade then it will be easier for them to help you improve in your learning and give the right advice. Teachers are sometimes confused on what exactly the letters mean but is there really a need for completely shifting our way of grading.

The better way of going about this situation is to officially create a ‘word’ based definition and a ‘number’ based definition for letter-based grading. One helpful thing about standard-based grading is that it adds in your effort and progress. So, if you get grades as low as 1’s and you start to slowly progress to 2’s then to 3’s then the grading website will include that to your final grade. But in the end, it will only include .1 or .

2 points to your grade and not everyone will get the bonus. If we switch back to letter-based then students have a better chance at getting better grades with less stress. Next time you are getting a test back, you will be excited to see your teacher walking towards you along with lots of happy faces.