ERIC Number: ED539176
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Plus/Minus Grading: Solution or Problem? Research into Practice
Education Partnerships, Inc.
Surprisingly, the debate over +/- grade systems seems to occur, largely, at the college and university level. Few middle and high schools seem to have taken on the issue, at least in any way that appears in the public literature. Other opinions suggest that it is the discriminating quality of plus/minus grading systems that make them useful. A report to the Faculty Senate at Western Illinois University stated that "The single most important argument in favor of a system of final grades that includes plus and minus grades is the increased accuracy of the grade as a reflection of student performance. In addition, plus/minus systems are seen as an antidote to grade inflation, since a student barely earning an A would receive an A-, rather than an A. Those opposed to +/- systems say that it is unfair, particularly to students in the 3.5-4.0 range. Will it take more effort to earn the A that they might have earned earlier? A second concern is the pressure put on teachers to award a "slightly higher" grade. The research and commentary offers no clear guidance on empirical reasons for shifting to a +/- grading system. It appears as if the benefits are determined largely by the intentions of the school in creating the system and the ways in which administrators and faculty implement it. Ultimately, grading systems rely on consensus among students, faculty, parents, colleges and/or employers about what the grades actually mean. If a change is planned, it appears as if all of these stakeholders should be involved in the discussion to assure that grades actually communicate with all of the people who need the information they provide. References and Resources are included.
Descriptors: Grading, Educational Change, Evaluation Criteria, Goodness of Fit, Educational Policy, Evaluation Methods, Methods Research, Performance Factors, Student Evaluation, Achievement Rating, Educational Practices
Education Partnerships, Inc. Web site: http://www.educationpartnerships.org
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Authoring Institution: Education Partnerships, Inc. (EPI)
Identifiers - Location: Illinois