A Different Type of Grading Scale

Picture: edublog.blogspot.com

I have yet to understand what an “A” means or a 99 if you give a number. Does that mean that you don’t need to learn anymore? Or as I tweeted earlier this week “we grade our meat but we should teach our students.”
Therefore I would like to propose a different type of grading scale.

Editors Note: I know it may not be realistic given parent perception and the way colleges work but we need to stop defining our students based on grades.

There are two scales and each student gets a letter and a number

E- Excels and exceeds grade level benchmarks
G- Meets grade level benchmarks
A- Approaches grade level benchmarks
B- Is working below grade level

1- Is an enthusiastic learner and works out of his comfort zone
2- Has shown academic growth
3- Is willing to try and has started to make progress
4- Hasn’t shown any growth and only does what he needs to do

When using this system a student who is naturally smart but doesn’t do anything more could get a G-4 or an E-4 but a student who is not doing well academically but shows growth will receive a grade that reflects that.

I applaud schools that have a similar system. I would love for you to share what you are doing.

Note: We do grade based on grade level benchmarks until grade 3 in my current school.


  1. Greg Gorman said:

    I like the scale and it makes sense, like you said the toughest thing would be to convince parents and putting GPA on transcripts for college bound kids. Would hate to cost a student scholarship $$$ by using a system that makes sense.

    November 11, 2010
    • Greg and Roderick,
      Thank you for your comments. Perhaps if we did have some type of dual system that would address the scholarship $$ issue.

      There was one important thing that I left out of the blog but tweeted a reply afterwards. For this system to work or for any system that assess and measures learning to work there needs to be clear benchmarks and standards.
      Again thank you for your feedback

      November 11, 2010
  2. What if we had both? The students could get their traditional grade that allowed for Colleges to sift through data to find their students, yet we could still give a more rounded assessment of the student. This could be really useful to colleges as well as much of what is talked about in recommendation letters would appear on transcripts based on your proposed system. I also think that many students would be motivated to try to achieve well and get the coveted E-1.

    November 11, 2010
  3. Akevy:

    This is important– I think if we want the ed reform we all want, we have to talk more and do more about assessment: the tail that wags the dog for both good and bad. It has the power to change things!

    I agree– the A-f scale and the 0-100 scale are bankrupt intellectually. But as long as we are stuck inside the A-F scale, one of my main arguments right now, as I move things incrementally, is how poorly the 0-100 scale fits our A-F grading. Are you telling me that if an F is a 0 (or call it a 1 so the math works), a D performance is sixty times better? And then a C is only 1.15 times better than a D? There is no logic at work here. Please people, consider the more meaningful 4.0 scale across the board, where a a D is 25% better than an F, and a C 25% better than a D, and so on. So much more logical!

    Let’s keep this conversation alive in the pages of ConPrin!


    November 16, 2010
  4. George Swain said:

    I agree with Jonathan that the A-F, 100-0 grading system is intellectually bankrupt. Why grade at all? Yes, let’s “grade our meat and teach our students.” There are infinite ways to assess learning. Why do we seek to reduce such a complex phenomenon to a number or a letter. Educators serious about reform should consider ditching the current grading system all together. Our school has, with great results.

    November 16, 2010
  5. Mindy Dickerson said:

    Can anyone share how they “grade” elementary school students? We have the 0-100 scale for 1st-5th grades. I would love to see something like the scale above for our kids.

    November 19, 2010
    • We actually do not grade students at all, but we work with our students and use comments based on the curriculum to assess if it is an area of strength or an area of growth. Grades is something that our school is actually moving away from.

      November 24, 2010
      • George,
        That great!
        Do you do that for all grades through 12th and if yes how does it work for students who go on to University and higher level education

        November 24, 2010
  6. Jake Rodgers said:


    I have to agree with George. Trying to improve the grading system assumes that it should exist at all. I’ve yet to hear a reasonable argument making the connection between deep and meaningful learning and the ranking and sorting of students that is our grading system. Improving it is simply becoming better at doing something bad. I like to think of the end goal and work backwards from there. If learning is that goal, numbers and letters on top of papers and on report cards are a barrier to learning due in part to the negative impact they have on intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, they fail because they are devoid of meaningful feedback that students need to improve. Any time spent on determining grades is time that could be spent offering thoughtful feedback.


    November 23, 2010
    • I agree 100%
      Feedback is key and I very rarely grade an assignment but rather give the students comments or feedback.
      What i was mainly referring to is that we need to give a grade currently on the report cards and many parents like a grade not that it makes it right but if we are going give grades on the report cards than I believe they should be informative of the students growth and effort.
      Thank you for your comment

      November 24, 2010
  7. jordan herres said:

    Wouldn’t this reveal lots of opinionated thoughts on students, and give full authority for the teachers to grade the students based on their opinions?

    November 30, 2012
  8. Thank you for your reply /question
    I am not saying that we don’t assess or have benchmarks or rubrics. What I am saying is that we need to look at the whole child and not just a grade but at effort and growth and yes some of that may be a bit more subjective. I would also hope that teachers are professionals and are in this to help students and would still be as objective as possible.

    November 30, 2012
  9. jordan herres said:

    That would be a great system if the teachers were professionals. I think that the students would be less worried about recieving a good letter grade and become more active in school.

    November 30, 2012

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