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Hi Ken.

A process begun by a Focused Learning Team centered around "15
Fixes..." a year ago is about to bear fruit in my school here in
Oregon. I and the other middle school principal in my district are
drafting a middle-level grading policy to better reflect current best
practice and the state movement toward proficiency-based grading. Our
staffs are both, predictably, balking at the "no zeroes" aspect in the
100% scale. We're not ready to go to 0-4 by fiat. So, we're looking
at the 50% solution, knowing that it's a work-around for a flawed
system, but a system which will exist in some classrooms for at least
another year. I've seen elsewhere that you seem to endorse 40% as a
floor. Can you explain your reasoning on that? It would seem to be a
bit of a capitulation to the impulse to punish students for missing
work...? Is that what it is -- a political solution to appease
recalcitrants? Or is there a more mathematical/logic reason to use
40% as the floor instead of 50%?

Thanks for your work in this area. Your book truly helped my staff
deeply reconsider their long-held beliefs about, well, everything!

Geoff Penrose

Geoff Penrose


Hi Geoff,
The only solution I endorse is no zeros and the use of Incomplete/Insufficient evidence, but if a school is hooked into the use of a percentage scale then I say they must turn that scale into an equal difference scale so 50 is the floor if A-D is 100-60. It is also important to note in this context the use of a percentage scale is incompatible with standards-based education/grading and should be abandoned and a system of levels - no less than two and preferably not more than seven - should be used for the performance standards.