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Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions regarding grading issues. Our district is working on improving our grading and reporting for K-12. Elementary is going to a standards-based report card with K-2 having three (1-3) levels of academic descriptors and grades 3-5 having four levels of descriptors (4=Advance, 3=Proficient, 2=Developing, 1=Needs Support). Our secondary is going to a 4-point grading system to eliminate zeros with 4=A, 3=B, 2=C, etc. My concern is the confusion the 1-4 system may create for our parents between the elementary and secondary purposes of the numbers. I am worried that many elementary parents will try to correlate a “4” to mean an “A” since that’s what it means in secondary. Elementary numbers represent a Standards-based method of reporting and the secondary numbers represent traditional grades. So far we have two solutions: 1) A lot of education for our parents to understand the differences between elementary and secondary numbers. 2) Change the elementary levels of academic indicators and descriptors from four levels to three levels for grades K-5 (3=proficient, 2=Developing, 1=Needs Support). What would you suggest? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Any other suggestions would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

D Murphy


You are right that here are advantages and disadvantages to any choice that you make
about performance standards, and that the choice is made even more difficult if you
maintain traditional letter grades. Ultimately, regardless of the symbol system you choose
(4 3 2 1 or A B C), what matters is what does the symbol mean. I would suggest you focus
on deciding how many levels of performance you want to use for K-2, 3-5 and 6-12 and
then develop clear descriptors for the meaning of each level. (The descriptors must be
words not symbol/number relationships like traditional grading scales.) Once you have the
clear descriptors you can attach whatever symbols you think are appropriate/acceptable
and then explain your 'system' to all stakeholders.