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Grading Practices in American High Schools

Breland, Hunter M.; Pinchak, Barbara Moretti
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Office of Education, Grades (Scholastic), High Schools, Secondary Education, Surveys


During the spring of 1972, 1069 schools participated in a survey of U.S. high schools. Of those schools reporting information on their grading practices, 68% indicated that only letter grades were used, 16% indicated that only percentage grades were used, 4% used some other system (such as pass-fail), and 9% used a combination of systems. (3% did not give complete information.) The meaning of grades within systems varied considerably. Percentage grades, in particular, showed the lack of a standard, with some being assigned as many as 8 equivalent letter grades. Conversely, some letter grades were assigned as many as 20 equivalent percentage grades. The most interesting finding of the survey of grading practices, however, relates to trends in grading. This survey suggests that there is less experimentation with alternative marking systems than might be expected. (20pp.)

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