Teachers Can’t Hold Students Accountable. (history, scores, systems, average)

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This is real issue created by the change to electronic grading systems which default to a 100 point scale with a passing threshold of 60. Under the old pre-computer school system with grades entered by hand into a gradebook a teacher would typically use a 4.0 scale to generate grades

A = 4
B = 3
C = 2
D = 1
F = 0

Add up all the assignment grades, divide by the number of assignment and you get the student's grade.

So if a student does 10 assignments, has 2 missing and gets a A, A, B, F, C, F, D, A, B, B you would add up the numerical scores: 4+4+3+0+2+0+1+4+3+3 and divide by 10 and you get a 2.4 which would be a C

If you assign those same assignments scores from 0-100 with a missing grade getting zero then you get:

A = 100
A =100
B = 80
missing = 0
C = 70
missing = 0
D = 60
A = 100
B = 80
B = 80

average = 67 or D

Same exact 10 letter grades but on a traditional 4 point scale the student gets a C average whereas on a 100 point scale the student earns a D.

If one wants to use a 100 point scale then the fair way to do it is as follows:

0-19 = F
20-39 = D
40-59 -= C
60-79 = D
80-100 = A

Which mathematically is the same exact thing as the old school scale of 0-4

Or you can just do as described in the original post and score

50-59 = F
60-69 = D
70-79 = C
80-89 = B
90-100 = A

and assign all missing grades an F or 50 and have 50 as the bottom threshold for failing grades.

All those grading methods produce exactly the same average grades across multiple assignments.

What is unfair is if you give zeros on a 100 point scale in which an F equals 0-59 and missing assignments are assigned a zero. That gives each missing assignment assigned a zero, 6-times the weight of every other grade in the gradebook.

Last edited by texasdiver; 11-07-2023 at 08:15 PM..

If one wants to use a 100 point scale then the fair way to do it is as follows:

0-19 = F
20-39 = D
40-59 -= C
60-79 = D
80-100 = A

...

Why? Just because you say so. That's the problem with all the different versions of grading scales. Everyone has their own opinion, and it's not much more than that.

In my high school, passing was 75, except on Regents exams where it was 65. Why? Just opinion.

Why? Just because you say so. That's the problem with all the different versions of grading scales. Everyone has their own opinion, and it's not much more than that.

In my high school, passing was 75, except on Regents exams where it was 65. Why? Just opinion.

No, not just because I say so. It is mathematically more fair. Most grades are subjective anyway. But each equivalent assignment should carry the same weight. What do I mean by that?

If you do 10 assignments that are all equivalent then your average grade should be determined by an equal weighting of your individual grades in all 10 assignments. In other words, each assignment should be 10% of your total grade.

The only way to do that is if each letter grade is given equal mathematical weight. You get that if you use a traditional 4 point scale

A = 4
B = 3
C = 2
D = 1
F = 0

Or you get it with a scale like this:

0-19 = F
20-39 = D
40-59 -= C
60-79 = D
80-100 = A

You do NOT get it with a scale of

A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 0 - 59

where you assign missing assignments a zero. If you do that then each missing assignment F is given 6-times the weight of each A.

And there is nothing magical about zeros. The SAT, for example, is scored on a 200-800 point scale. If you completely blow off the SAT and enter every answer wrong you get a 200, not a zero. They have been doing that since 1934. Is the SAT all "woke" because you can't get a zero on it?

No, not just because I say so. It is mathematically more fair. Most grades are subjective anyway. But each equivalent assignment should carry the same weight. What do I mean by that?

If you do 10 assignments that are all equivalent then your average grade should be determined by an equal weighting of your individual grades in all 10 assignments. In other words, each assignment should be 10% of your total grade.

The only way to do that is if each letter grade is given equal mathematical weight. You get that if you use a traditional 4 point scale

A = 4
B = 3
C = 2
D = 1
F = 0

Or you get it with a scale like this:

0-19 = F
20-39 = D
40-59 -= C
60-79 = D
80-100 = A

You do NOT get it with a scale of

A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 0 - 59

where you assign missing assignments a zero. If you do that then each missing assignment F is given 6-times the weight of each A.

And there is nothing magical about zeros. The SAT, for example, is scored on a 200-800 point scale. If you completely blow off the SAT and enter every answer wrong you get a 200, not a zero. They have been doing that since 1934. Is the SAT all "woke" because you can't get a zero on it?

I hate that we think children are just numbers. This is not -- or at least should not -- be about mathematical formulas.

I hate that we think children are just numbers. This is not -- or at least should not -- be about mathematical formulas.

No one is saying that children are numbers. Certainly not me.

I'm just saying that a fair grading system weights each assignment grade equally. The only way to achieve that is if each letter grade has equal numerical weight. Make the scale anything you want. You can use a 4-point scale. A 10-point scale, or a 100-point scale. Just weight all grades equally when calculating a grade average. Or if not, weight them deliberately.

This whole thing is an example of what happens when we let computers do our thinking for us.

No one is saying that children are numbers. Certainly not me.

I'm just saying that a fair grading system weights each assignment grade equally. The only way to achieve that is if each letter grade has equal numerical weight. Make the scale anything you want. You can use a 4-point scale. A 10-point scale, or a 100-point scale. Just weight all grades equally when calculating a grade average. Or if not, weight them deliberately.

This whole thing is an example of what happens when we let computers do our thinking for us.

Why? As an earth science teacher, not all my labs were of equal importance. How does an English teacher compare the value of one essay over another. Depends on what the teacher is trying to measure.

And I don't think this really has anything to do with computers.

Why? As an earth science teacher, not all my labs were of equal importance. How does an English teacher compare the value of one essay over another. Depends on what the teacher is trying to measure.

And I don't think this really has anything to do with computers.

So deliberately weight assignments differently. Do a weighted average or weight individual assignments however you want. That is all valid. I do that too.

I'm talking about weighting grades equally not assignments which is a different issue. All things being equal, an A, B, C, D, and F should all have equal weight on a student's average.

Failing students still fail in my class. I fail kids all the time. But a few missing assignments early in the grading period doesn't tank their grade so much that it is mathematically impossible to climb back out. Set aside the numbers and just look at letter grades.

If a student does two assignments and gets an A on one and and F on the other. What should that average out to? On an old 4-point scale that would average out to a 2.0 or C-. On a 100 point scale with zero for missing, that would average out to a 50 or an F.

If a student does 3 assignments and gets two A's and one F. What should that average out to? ON a 4 point scale that would average out to a 2.7 or C+ On a 100-point scale that would average out to a 66 or D.

If a student does 4 assignments and gets 3 A's and one F what should that average out to? On an old 4-point scale that would average out to a 3.0 or B-. On a 100-point scale that would average out to a 75 or a C.

Math matters. Teachers should at least understand the mathematical effects of the grading system they use. Too many have no idea because they simply plunk numbers into the grading software using the pre-set defaults and accept whatever spits out the other end.

Last edited by texasdiver; 11-07-2023 at 10:27 PM..

All I can tell you is that in the school I was in at the time, the predominant point in favor of it was that kids could get so far behind they could never dig themselves out of the hole.

Unfortunately for those students, that’s not how the real world is, and school is (at least somewhat) prepping kids for the real world. There’s no automatic “minimum 50%” rescue policy in the real world for when an adult digs themself into a hole that they are unable to extricate themselves from.

Such policies satisfy the needs of the adults, but are really setting kids up for failure after compulsory schooling ends.

It's interesting reading the responses seem to fall into two camps. One that supports the minimum 50% because the students "just had a bad test" and otherwise would be getting good grades. And the opposite camp that these students don't care; they may be capable but don't exert the effort to get the grade. One aspect of the first camp it seems from these responses is students are either capable, but victims of the "system" or a student is a special needs student and should be in SPED classes. In contrast the second camp recognizes that some students are special needs and accordingly, doesn't consider this problem a special needs one, but is focused on the problem group.

These two camps present different solutions. The first camp wants to carry the student along, do everything possible to get them a passing grade, and feels emotionally they are helping that student without regard the impact on everyone else in class caused by the disruption. The second camp wants to a) provide SPED for the student that needs that; b) help the student who is struggling by more appropriate class placement; c) support the majority of the students in the class; and d) get the troublemaker out of class and into an environment where that student doesn't disrupt the education of the ones who want to learn.

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