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College Grading Practices: An Overview

Warren, Jonathan R.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Achievement, Evaluation Methods, Grades (Scholastic), Higher Education


While grades and grading procedures have become issues of widespread interest and controversy in recent years, the interest has been directed primarily toward questions of external form and the prediction of later grades from earlier grades. More important questions concerning the purposes and effectiveness of grades have continued to be neglected. The most commonly stated purposes of grades are for selection to more advanced educational programs and employment, for motivating students, and for providing students with information about their performance. Consideration of purposes, however, seldom enters decisions about form. Course grades and grade-point averages have shown high internal consistency and good temporal stability up to about a year. Treating academic performance as a single dimension represented by grades is therefore justifiable.

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