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Simplifying Down: The Four-Point Grading Scale
posted by: Garry | July 29, 2014, 04:18 PM   


The four-point scale’s beauty comes in its simplicity.  In a four point scale the teacher decides the overall quality of the work, typically with a rubric.  A typical four-point scale may work as follows:

0: No work done

1: Below average

2: Average

3: Above Average

4: Perfect


As you can see, the simplicity of the scale removes a lot of the burden from the teacher’s shoulders in trying to figure out what grade to give.  It also allows a teacher to assign a lower grade, such as a “0,” without throwing the student’s entire score off.


The major difficulty with using a four-point scale is deciding what exactly counts as average.  This is where combining a four-point scale with standards-based grading really works well.  When the two systems work together, each standard is giving its own score on the 4 point grading scale.  These two systems work so seamlessly when combined, that the practice is actually featured in Robert J. Marzano’s book Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading.


Not only does this provide very specific feedback, but unlike the traditional percentage grading system, the weight is now put on the accomplishments.  Instead of measuring how far below proficient a student is, most of the scale is used to measure how far above proficient the student is.  Putting the emphasis on achievement allows for a much stronger ability to track student progress.


For more information on both the four-point grading scale and standards-based grading, check out this article by Robert J. Marzano: Grades That Show What Students Know.


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