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What do Teacher Assigned Grades Measure? A One Page Research Summary

Bowers, Alex J.

Historically, across the research on teacher grading and marking practices, in comparison to standardized test scores, teacher assigned grades have been maligned by researchers and psychometricians as subjective and unreliable measures of student academic achievement, often referred to as “hodgepodge” or “kitchen sink” grading practices. However, when teachers are asked what they assign grades for, they continuously report that they assign grades based on student academic knowledge and achievement, but also for student persistence, behavior, participation, and effort. In comparison to standardized test scores, for which researchers have struggled to find a link between scores and overall student schooling outcomes, grades are one of the strongest predictors of positive student outcomes, such as successfully transitioning from middle school to high school, graduating from high school, college-going and college graduation. Thus, grades are a useful assessment in education, but what exactly do they measure and is it reliable?

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Academic Units
Education Leadership

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Keywords: Grades (scholastic), Teachers, test scores, criterion validity, socio-emotional behavior

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