In my experience and observation, teachers and systems have used one of three systems when converting standards to letter grades in a standards-based grading environment.


In the video above, I suggested each standards to letter grades conversion method has its own limitations, however they also bring with them specific strengths.

Strengths and limitations when considering the Marzano Method

  • Some student information systems or grade books may not allow teachers to average standard scores and in turn the teacher would need to do this calculation and override the final grade.
  • One limitation of this method is that a student can have a poor understanding of a concept (standard), however it does not dramatically affect the overall letter grade and in turn a grades-driven student may not be driven to continue learning the concept.
  • Although a broad scale was illustrated in the video (3.00 - 4.00), it could easily be further broken down to include plus and minus letter grades (i.e. 3.00 - 3.25 = A-).  The conversion scale parallels many schools' grade point average scale.  For some buildings/districts, this may be helpful in communication with parents while in others in may create additional confusion.

Strengths and limitations when considering the Convert to Percentages Method
  • Because this method uses total points and percentages, this method probably plays the best with many student information systems and grade books.  
  • One limitation of this method is that a student can have a poor understanding of a concept (standard), however it does not dramatically affect the overall letter grade and in turn a grades-driven student may not be driven to continue learning the concept.  
  • I'm going out on a limb and believe this method may be the easiest for parents and students to understand due to their experience with traditional grade books.  
Strengths and limitations when considering the Piecewise / Logic Function Method
  • I have not yet seen a student information system or grade book that allows teachers to create this type of standards to final grade conversion, therefore it will take a teacher manually calculating the grades or utilizing a spreadsheet to do the calculation.  In turn, final grades will likely need to be manually overridden by the classroom teacher.
  • The teachers I have spoken with indicate this method helps grades-driven students focus more on their current weaknesses and less on a percentages/averages game.  
What other strengths and limitations have you experienced with these three methods?

What other standards to final grade calculations have you used?  

Feel free to add your experiences in the comments!