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My teacher uses a grading policy set forth in the syllabus that is
used in several classes in the business program. These classes are
document formatting, production, publisher, etc.

My concern is that the number of points to be gained is far less than
the number of points to be lost. The number of objectives, parts,
tasks, etc in an assignment doesn't matter. You could be asked to
change two things or change 50 things and the number of points off
remains the same.

For example, an assignment asks that you change 20 things in a word
document. Each one you do incorrectly counts off 10 points. Therefore
if you miss 5 parts you receive a 50. This just doesn't make sense.
You correctly completed 75% of the work or if the points off were
equal to points gained you completed 150 points correctly. Essentially
if you miss all the 'parts' you could hypothetically receive a
negative 100! This is insane. Please help. I have met with the
teacher, department chair, division chair, and dean and even though
they finally agree the policy is incorrect they wont change it. This
has to be illegal!!

James Holden


I am not a lawyer so I cannot comment on the legality of the grading policy but I can
confidently say it is a terrible policy that breaks almost all the principles of quality
assessment. As it appears that the department chair, division chair, and dean are all gutless
you may have to consult a lawyer.


James Holden's


Thank you so much Ken! That was extremely fast and while its not good news I'm glad I am
correct in that it does not accurately measure a students success or knowledge of the
course objectives.

Their concern is that there is no policy that can be implemented for accurately grading
dozens of (for simplicity sake we'll use one course) Microsoft Word documents that have
varying numbers and types of tasks. I said they already have a system, its the course
objectives. While its a bit less traditional (circle A, B, C, or D)the teacher can look thorough
the course objectives for each chapter (say dropping caps, font size, and font color) and
simply ask themselves did the student meet these objectives. That is my suggestion but
that was too 'magical' for them and I was thinking too simplistically according to them.

The Grade Doctor's


Your suggestion is exactly how grading should be done - grades for each major learning goal/course objective, and an overall grade for the subject/course if necessary.

James B Holden's


Ken thank you again for your response. I am so happy to know that my suggestion was not
'magical' or too simplistic as they called it - but rather, an accurate reflection of the
students knowledge. (aka what a grade should be!) I have sent your publication "A Repair
Kit for Grading" to my Dean in hopes she will read it. In the mean time I have spoken with a
few lawyers about righting this wrong as well as contacted the accreditation board SACS. If
you have any other help, suggested reading, etc I would surely appreciate it. I am just a
college kid trying to earn what is fair and I cannot describe how much confidence you have
restored in me. Thank you

The Grade Doctor's


James, I wish you well as you try to get your Dean and others to understand the need for accurate grades. You asked about other reading - there is a lot of 'good stuff out there but I would suggest as a starting point that you look at articles and books on assessment and grading written by Damian Cooper, Tom Guskey and Rick Wormeli.