Grading System Changed To Points

What would be the benefits of changing the grading system of A-F to 4-1? The idea is that there are learning objectives that students must meet by the end of the year. The example in this article uses students learning the periodic table in science. Towards the beginning of the year we can expect most if not all of the students to be receiving 1’s and 2’s, which means they are still developing. The goal is to be proficient (4) by the end of the year.


I don’t believe this is an effective way to gauge how students are progressing. It would take longer to identify struggling students. For example, it would take half a school year to realize that a student who should be at 2 or 3 is still only at 1 on the progression scale. With the achievement gaps not getting any smaller, this grading system would add to the problem. What do you think are some pros and cons from this grading system?


19 thoughts on “Grading System Changed To Points

  1. Some elementary school teachers start with the point system as 4 then degress to 1 if student does not perform well. Some science middle schools do that. They are very specific grades such as a 2.35 up to a 3. Students strive for a 3 that is hard to get. My daughter is trying for the 3 but gets 2.7 and is frustrated. When changing to a new grading system it really really confuses the student. Then the parent needs to intervene. I like the A-C grades. Ofcourse it is always good to try something new to see if it works better. Always room for improvement. I always try to remember how hard middle school can be anyways-socially, different classes, different school building finding where classrooms are, lockers, etc. grading that is easy to understand is always helpful.

    • A-F grading system is pretty similar to points. A is a 4, B is a 3 and so on. That is why we have a GPA. If changing the grading system is more effective at measuring a students progress than I’m all for it. You mention parents needing to intervene when students are confused. Im curious of the outcome when the parents are also confused?

      • I think that any grading system is stupid. i really think that if the students see a grading system change from letters to number they are going to feel like they are really being ranked on how well, good and fast they are learning compared to others

    • I went to school for a short period of time that had this kind of grading scale, and I found it somewhat confusing, but also somehow less harsh, because having a 2, or 3 was for some reason less harsh than the before expected letters for many kids. It felt many times so much less harsh receiving numbers instead of letters for some reason. This, however, was only implemented in my fourth grade class year, and then changed the year after (for reasons that I do not have any clue about).
      I agree with you Jen-it is good to try to implement new things to see if they will work, however, the issue becomes: how long should you try it out. Many times new programs take a long period to actually prove successful (I am reminded of the Harlem School program), and the issues come with not persevering, or forcing something long after it has become a waste of time.
      Just some things to think about!

  2. I think I remember using the number grades in elementary school then when I entered middle school we had A B grades. I personally like the A-F grading system because I am use to it. I kind of really don’t see too much of a difference in the number grading system. I as well think it would confuse the students as well as the parents. I do like the fact that it has the accomplished, proficient, and developing in it to give an idea where the students are at.

    • That’s cool that you got to experience both type of grading system. I went to an elementary school that used E(excellent), G (good), S(satisfactory), U(unsatisfactory). The schools should have just found a way to incorporate accomplished, proficient and developing category into our current system.

  3. One thing I like about this model is that it shifts the focus from “being” above/below average to a model that focuses on student progression. Sometimes A-F grading runs the risk of students feeling labeled by their grade; I kind of like a system that tells kids, “You’re getting there!” I noticed in English Seminar at PYB that they grade their quizzes based on proficiency using In-Progress, Proficient, etc. I wonder what their reasoning is?

    You mentioned an article, but I don’t see a link. I’d love to read it and learn more about how this 4 point scale would be implemented.

    • I agree that the wording is nice and it shifts the focus especially for educators to see who is behind and struggling with material. However, I’m not sure how the kids would take it. I would be curious to see how they would perceive number vs letter grades. I would think that they would just adjust their thinking to assume that 1 is failing, just as an F is. I think the grading system we have now is really problematic either way, because most students (myself included) consider a C grade to be less than ideal, when really that’s where you’re supposed to be at. A “C” is average, yet our students and teachers seem to view it otherwise.

      • I agree, Olivia, if it would have been the other way around, where it would have started off with a 1-4 grading scale, and moved to an A-F scale, the sentiment would stay the same, where an F and a 1 would feel the same, no matter the number or letter.

      • Yes, I definitely agree that there’s a high chance students would view a 4 point scale similarly to letter grades if it were to be implemented just like the letter system. A strong shift in teacher attitude towards assessing students in proficiency might sway students, but if the numbers just replace the letters then change is less likely. I like the idea that students at all levels SHOULD be getting 1s and 2s at the very beginning. If that were really to happen, then I think students might view their grades differently. However, that makes me wonder how their proficiency level scores would affect their overall grade at the end of the year. I can see how the 4 point scale works in elementary school, but in higher grades it would be a bit more complicated.

    • sorry about the link. I updated my post and included it if you still want to see it. I also noticed the proficiency grading system. Maybe the overall message they want to give the students when they turn in an incomplete assignment is that they can still work on it and turn it in instead of giving the student an F which would send a negative message.

      • Thanks, Dang! Reading the article definitely gives me some more things to think about. I didn’t realize how confusing BSD’s proficiency grading system is! While the wording might be nice, the system doesn’t seem very transparent at this point; I can see how it would be difficult to tell when students actually need help and need parents to step in. While I do like that there is a section in the report card that addresses “Trimester Progress”, I’m sure that parents still don’t feel they know very much with a +/-/= mark.

        Another article was published on the 29th stating that the Beaverton School Board has concluded that the current grading policy does not meet the requirement of being, “clear, understandable and accessible. . .” It’s good to know the board and the Superintendent are addressing the issue.

        I like that student behavior and academics are being graded separately as a result of HB220. Hopefully BSD will a way to do so more effectively and clearly.

  4. Hello Dang,

    When I see this scale I can’t help but feel bias. It seems like a lot of energy focused in the wrong direction. It is reminiscent of the state policies and standardized testing. Each state defines their own scale for testing. is this new grading system just another way to make below average seem proficient? That is where my thoughts go.


  5. The wording for this system is so positive. I much prefer beginning to failing! I like what jen watt said about having the point system to give a more exact and specific level of skill (2.35, 2.7, etc). I agree that it’s nice to try new things and put old depressing words like “F” or “Failing” in the past.

  6. I agree that semantics are important in the education system, and I do think that an F, for failing grade, would feel worse than a 1, for beginner, however, it will at some point come to feel quite similar. I do think, though, that it is a nice change, however, there are so many other things I feel like need to be focused on than how we refer to the grading system.

  7. I have seen this done at elementary schools and have seen it work, and not work out. I think its easier to assess the younger children with this type of grading, but would be difficult with older (middle/high school) children. In elementary school it can be easier to see where the child is at and how to improve on a certain subject. In high school it is more difficult to asses the students because they have all been taught the subjects in different styles. Overall I don’t think its a good idea to have this type of grading system in place because like you stated it would be hard to determine if a student who is at a 2/3 level really should be at a 1 level.

  8. This new grading shift seems like it could work out just fine. Of course there is going to be some glitches with this system because it is new. One things I was concerned about it is if children continue to get 1s or 2s throughout the year what is going to be done to help the children. Also how are the teachers going to be targeting the progress? I feel with all the tracking they will not have enough time to asses everyone efficiently especially when classrooms can be so overcrowded. Is the process of grading going to be the same like the A-F model?

  9. Dang, thanks for your post. You bring up a good conversation when discussing the benefits of changing the grading scheme. I’m not a fan of the A-F grading schedule because it definitely stereotypes students’ achievements. Labeling deems student’s motivation to succeed. I think it broadens the achievement gap even more because the students who get below average grades still don’t get the extra help that they need. I think that a point scale is more effective because it is easy to follow. Students are able to keep track of their own scores and gauge how they loss points. Additionally, students should be able to make up the points they’ve loss to prove that they’ve actually looked over the assignment and took the time to learn and understand the topics better. A point scale forces students to be independent and responsible for their own learning and understanding. This would also help teachers pin point the students who’ve accumulated less points to give them the extra support necessary.

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