Momentum Grows to Scrap 0-100 Grade Scale
A movement to change the way students are graded is spreading nationally. Critics say the current zero to 100 scale is outdated and misleading.
When Project Baltimore sat down with Dana Casey late last year, she spoke out against the current grading policy in Baltimore City Schools.
“They keep saying, let’s just lower the bar and lower the bar and lower the bar a little bit more,” she told Fox45.
As a teacher for more than 20 years, Casey cannot give a student less than a 50 percent, no matter how little work that student does.
“The emphasis is on passing,” Casey said. “The emphasis is not on learning.”
It’s a policy meant to give students the chance to recover and catch up. Under the current grading system, a zero could make passing a mathematical impossibility.
“A majority of the school districts are investigating it,” says Richard Wormeli, a former teacher turned education consultant. He travels the nation arguing in favor of the 50 percent rule or just changing the way we grade altogether.
Wormeli says giving students a zero on a test or assignment may not accurately reflect how much they’ve learned.
“If we were to take temperature readings for a week, 85, 88, 87, 86 and so on. And we forgot to take the temperature on Friday. We might record nothing, which is in essence a zero. And if we had to average that, that would bring the temperature back down to the 60s, if we were reporting the temperature for that week. That would be a false report of what actually happened with the weather,” explains Wormeli.
But Wormeli feels the 50 percent rule is a just symptom of what he considers the real problem.
“We are so stuck on the hundred-point scale because it tends to be this, it was done to me, so it must be okay to do it to the next generation,” he says.
Wormeli feels we need a new type of grading scale with a smaller range, where if a student misses a test or is chronically absent, they can still pass a course if they can show they’ve learned the material.
“Did they present evidence of learning? That's what the grade is reporting. Not how hard they worked,” he says.
But Casey told Project Baltimore, “Once or twice on occasion it might help a kid here and there. But it’s ultimately destructive. They’ve sent out the message you will not be held accountable, don’t worry about it.”