Make the grade work 1

December 1, 2006

Personally, I feel no need to be too mathematical about grades so long as we have a nationally recognised and balanced system. What is more important when marking is experience, getting the feel for what is fair, what is expected for a particular grade and communicating requirements, results and reasons to students.

While the system in use up to the millennium was "a bit mad" in cutting off students' marks at 79 per cent, at least each band had an even distribution of 10 percentage points per grade. But while it seemed sensible and fair to move to "using the full percentage range", what has begun to replace it is unmitigated, unqualified lunacy: from a third with a 10 percentage point range to a first with just 31 percentage points at the marker's disposal.

If we truly want to use the full scale, I propose the following gradations: 40-49, 3:2; 50-59, 3:1; 60-69, 2:2, 70-79, 2:1; 80-89, 1:2; 90-100, 1:1. It would deal both with the problem of grade inflation and that of the 2:1 bunching.

Gillian Ania.
Head of Italian, Salford University

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