PHOTOS COURTESY OF MINNETONKA HIGH SCHOOL. GREG HELGESON, PHOTOGRAPHER.
Minnetonka district policy allows a
teacher to conduct additional assess-
ments if he or she agrees that a report
card grade does not fairly represent
grading “on the curve.” When scores
overwhelmed by the course’s content
the student’s performance. In this case,
on a particular test are initially low, the and demands. After trying hard but
the teacher gave Pam two additional
teacher applies a curving process, and
receiving a first-quarter grade of F, she
summative exams that she had missed
everyone’s score is magically inflated.
decided to change to a general-level
from the first quarter, and her grade was
Typically, the top student score in a
class, where she achieved great success. converted to an A-.
class becomes the “perfect” score, and
the rest are sorted from that point.
During the second quarter, she earned
an A on her classwork and a B+ on the
Student behavior can also complicate
grades. For example, in our school,
final exam. Two weeks later, the final
many students used their cell phones to
grades for the semester were issued.
text or send e-mails during class. Some
Factors unrelated to student achieve-
Before I reveal the grade Pam received,
teachers attempted to use grades to con-
ment of standards—such as behav-
what grade do you think would demon- trol this behavior. One teacher would
ioral infractions, unexcused absences,
strate what she knew and was able to do reduce a student’s percentage grade
cheating, late or missing work, or
averaging—can also deflate grades.
for this course?
Pam was surprised and confused
by two;points every time the student
inappropriately took out a cell phone.
An example of the effects of averaging when she saw that her final grade was
In some cases, this practice reduced
occurred when Pam decided to take a
a D+. Following common practice with students’ grades by two letters.
risk and register for an advanced place-
ment course in the fall of her junior
year. Unfortunately, she soon became
course transfers, her first-quarter F had
been carried over into the new course.
Needless to say, her parents called the
Schools also frequently consider
student attendance when calculat-
ing grades. Students with unexcused