Skip links

0-4 Scale instead of 0-100 scale

0-4 scale gradingJessica, middle school humanities teacher

“I’ve worked with kids who are very privileged whom you don’t need to teach and they’re going to find a way to succeed. And then I worked with less privileged kids. I think that if you use the old grading scale where children can get a 0 out of 100, they’re never going to succeed because the system is not made for them to succeed. Using the 0-4 scale is a more of a measure of not where they come from, but what we can provide them in the classroom and to show them what they can do in the classroom.

Theresa, middle school humanities teacher

“Instead making a 20-point assignment, where students can earn a 20 out of 20, a 19 out of 20, an 18 out of 20, and so on, I’m now just down to essentially four levels. Either it’s meeting the standard, exceeding the standard, approaching the standard, or it’s not meeting at all. And that has kind of opened a whole can of worms for me. As my assignments themselves become much more tailored to specific standards, that then the next step is to decide, hopefully with other teachers, ‘Okay. What does it look like when a sixth grader has mastered this standard? And what does it look like when it’s approaching or exceeding?’ I’d love to do a lot more of that kind of calibration with my colleagues so that the standard in my class looks the same across the school.

Steven, high school math teacher

“I used to think that grades had to be zero through a hundred, right? Everything that I ever grew up on was just zero to a hundred grading system, so I figured that’s the way it was done. If it’s not broke, why fix it kind of idea mentality, but now I believe that grading system just seems a little bit unfair, a little lopsided in favor of the failing grade versus in favor of the passing one. The majority of the grade is an F versus the passing grades that only makes up, what, 30% of it, so it’s not a really great split.

Mike, middle school math teacher

“I’m a big believer that every student should earn whatever grade they get, so I had real trouble initially with a no zero policy: ‘Well, if they didn’t do anything, how can I give them any credit at all? If they didn’t do anything, they deserve a zero!’ My colleagues told me, ‘Give them a 55% – it’s still an F.’ That was the most significant change in my thinking: accepting that an F is an F, and it will show as an F. When I thought about the students I had last year who would work very hard to improve their grade, who would even do extra-credit, they would do all this work but their grade wouldn’t change because previous assignments were a zero. And if one of those was a 2-3 week project, it was just impossible to outweigh that. I had students who were basically like, ‘Why do anything to improve my grade if my grade is still going to be an F no matter what?’

“There is something I can do, because I’m the teacher. I had to let go trying to control it all, to realize that grading is not really about me, at the end of the day. Using a 55% as the lowest grade means I’m not breaking their spirit by showing them this ridiculously low percentage. A good example is the group I co-teach this year–many are students with IEP. If I would have put a zero down for incomplete work in this class, more than half the class would currently have Fs. That’s not even counting the Ds. Now that I put 55% instead of 0%, I have no more than ten students with either Ds OR Fs.

Phil, middle school history teacher

“I know that zeros aren’t going to work for me ever again. A zero sucks the life out of your grade.