An educational diversion

Damn.  Half my day gone already, mostly because I’m an idiot when it comes to PhotoShop, and our resident non-idiot is out of town for the rest of the week.  So I had to wrestle through myself.  I give myself a C+ on the results.

But as  I was poking around today, I found this quirky little article on Slate:  Where’s the E?  Why do schools give out A, B, C, D, and then an F grade?

It’s not so much the “missing E” that amuses me – it’s the varying grade scales from place to place.  It turns out that my po-dunk high school in East Bumfuck, Virginia actually had a pretty tough scale.  With an exception of a few years in which they tweaked the line between A and B, here’s the grading scale I had from kindergarten through senior year of high school:

A:  95-100
B:  88-94
C:  81-88
D:  75-80
F:  Below 75

So, there is a tight margin for “excellence,” a sliver of hope between “average” and the original “FAIL,” and a pretty decent sized raft between average and average-plus.

Needless to say, getting to college where anything above 90 was an A, and anything above 70 was a C, felt like an absolute breeze.  I was really surprised to find that people even within my own state had different grade scales (or, better yet, used a 4.0 grading system, which I still have trouble fathoming at times).  I found a few others that were as tight as mine, but never found a school that was more stingy with its A’s.

How did your school do it?

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3 Responses

  1. All the private schools I went to had a 7-point scale – 93-100 was an A, 85-92 was a B, etc. The public schools I went to were all 10-point scales, and so was my college. I’m kind of stunned by the toughness of your school’s system, though, yikes.

    I just never knew there was anything different. For a little while they made it so that 94 was an A – 93-88 was the B range – but that was when I was in 2nd-3rd grade, I think, and they changed it back again.

  2. When I was in elementary school we didn’t do A B C D F. We did E for excellent, G for good, S for satisfactory, N for needs improvement, and U for unsatisfactory.

    I too wondered where the E ever went. Hmmph.

    I think we got Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory for conduct grades and that sort of thing…but not for anything academic.

    Boy’s grading system is more like yours than like mine used to be.

  3. I was such a nerd that when we transitioned to “real” grades from the O S N U I system (outstanding and incomplete, otherwise like Beej), I was *excited*. What a dork.

    Believe it or not (iiiiiiii’m walkin’ on air! – you’re welcome), my school had a basic grading system that was a 10-point, but then individual teachers were allowed to adjust on that for different classes; they had to have it approved by the admin, but I certainly never heard stories that they were turned down. Interestingly, math teachers usually stuck with the 10-pt, which always cracked me up. English and Biology classes tended to have harder scales – maybe they really missed doing math.

    I remember distinctly the teacher who would give different grading scales for different assignments; yes, he was awesome, not. He’d make it something totally ridiculous and then offer some stupid extra credit thing that you could do so that – while basically failing the assignment by his standards – you could swing a D. If you did enough of this, you could at least pass his class. Did I mention that he taught a required core class? Two thumbs up. We called him Hitler.

    Oh, and outside of Hitler and his special assignments (where 99 and 100 were the only A’s), no, I’ve never seen a harder scale for an A for a school.

    Individual teachers could set their own curves? Okay, that is officially nutso-rama. It’s hard enough coming up with consistency from school to school as far as what an “A” (or a passing grade, as it were) really means…but to have that much variance from one classroom to another?

    There might have only been one or three classes in your particular school, but still. Damn.

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