Family handbook revises grading charts, adds rounding policy

Family+handbook+revises+grading+charts%2C+adds+rounding+policy

Anya Mirza and Clara Medeiros

This year, the school made several clarifying additions to the Family Handbook’s Grading section. In the past, teachers have used three main grading metrics: the 10-point scale, 100 point scale, and letter grades. The additions standardize grading using a chart to demonstrate the conversions between all three metrics.

“We spent the last two years as an Upper Division Faculty thinking a lot about grading […] and making sure that the way we grade is aligned with our values,” Upper Division Head Dr. Jessica Levenstein said. “It’s in the student’s best interest if there is a kind of uniformity in grading policies across teams [within departments].”

The grading conversion table prevents situations in which a student gets a specific grade in one class but would have gotten a different grade in another class with the exact same scores, Dean of Faculty Dr. Andrew Fippinger said. He hopes it is comforting for students to know that the grading scale is the same in all of their classes, he said. 

This clarification will resolve teachers’ doubts about grading as well, Levenstein said. The correlation chart in the Family Handbook provides clarity for teachers who have already used this grading standard with no guidance from the school, she said.

The school administration began revising the grading policy last year during a series of small group meetings, Fippinger said. “We spent a lot of time last year as a faculty talking about grading in general.”

Both grading scales in the Family Handbook are necessary because, depending on the class, one method might make more sense than the other, Levenstein said. “I’m an English teacher, so if I were grading a paper, I would have a hard time saying what the difference is in a paper between an 88 and 89.”

Teachers in other departments such as World Languages prefer to use the 100-point scale because it has been their standard for many years, World Languages Department Chair Pilar Valencia said. She believes one of the new policies in the Family Handbook, rounding low failing grades up to 50%, will have a positive effect for those grading out of 100 points, she said. 

The 10-point scale only has one corresponding grade for an F —  zero. If a student receives a zero on one assignment and a 10 on the next, it would average to a 5 or a B-. This was not the case for the 100-point system. Prior to this year, the possible grades on the 100-point system ranged from 0-100%, with the bottom 60% of grades considered to be failing. This meant it was much more difficult for students graded on the 100-point scale to recover from a low grade, even if they showed a lot of improvement later in the semester, Valencia said. 

The school has also standardized rounding as part of the grading policy edits. “That way, a grade on the cusp between two letter grades will be rounded up or down at the same numerical threshold no matter what class they are in,” Fippinger said.

The lack of flexibility in the grading system’s rounding rules can be an issue for students who are very concerned about their grades, Amaris Christian (10) said.

On the other hand, Asher Seifan (10) said this change will positively impact his grades because if he is in between two letters, he will be certain whether it will round up or down. 

Revisions such as these are key to teaching, Valencia said. “In teaching, very few things should be written in stone. It’s seeing your students, seeing the circumstances, and rethinking what is the best way of creating a fruitful environment for the students to learn.”