The author discusses valid and reliable ways to assign grades in an academic course in any discipline. Validity means the accuracy of a grade’s reflection of student learning and achievement. Reliability concerns the degree of random error that might be present and affect validity. First the author defines a grade as a measure of achievement, then identifies problems with existing grading practices and outlines principles that lead to valid grading. Grading criteria, which should be carefully and thoughtfully selected, are reviewed and categorized as “highly recommended,” “controversial,” and “inappropriate.” Whichever grading method instructors choose should accurately measure their students’ achievement, because a grade represents a contract between instructor and student that accurately reflects a particular level of learning. Finally, the author discusses grade inflation.
Keywords: College grading, grading criteria, validity, reliability
Download IDEA Paper 79