Saturday, May 3, 2014

Translations, Part V: What the Grades Really Mean

A+: This is the very rare paper that makes me dance around my apartment and shout. Also, it means I can knock off grading for the rest of the evening, because why spoil the glow?

A: This is genuinely very good indeed.

A-: This is interesting and insightful, but not polished. Or it is very polished, but not at all interesting. Oh, who am I kidding? It's really more of a B+, but see below.

B+: No good can come of this grade. Try not to assign it.

B: This has some facets that I can genuinely praise, but as a whole the paper is not quite ... there ... in ways that I will find almost impossible to articulate, and will write about half a page attempting to explain. The student, however, will be satisfied, and will not read that half-page.

B-: This is a strictly average paper, masquerading as an above-average one. But at least the student is genuinely trying very hard.

C+: This student may also be trying, but has hit a glass ceiling because the writing mechanics are so appalling; OR, this is an A student who is not trying at all.

C: A below-average grade masquerading as an average one. The paper has some vague glimmerings of promise, but a lot more wrong with it, which I will spend at least a full page attempting to explain. None of my comments will be read, and the next paper will be exactly the same.

C-: This is really more of a D, but I would greatly prefer not to have this student again next semester.

D+: This is more or less the right length, sort of on topic, and not plagiarized. It has no other redeeming features whatsoever.

D: This is way too short, but NO NO PLEASE DON'T MAKE IT LONGER.

D-: This is the kind of paper that makes one want to add insult to injury.

F+: A special grade, reserved for a paper that would have earned a B, but was turned in nine days late.

F: The easiest grade to assign, since the paper either was never turned in, or was copied from In the former case, the student will not argue; in the latter, there will be a long and complicated story about how the paper was typed at the student's great-aunt's house and the great-aunt sneaked in while the student was asleep, added the plagiarized bits, and then uploaded the whole thing to Shmoop.


Belle said...

I think you are very generous, obviously beaten down by years of grade inflation;D

Unknown said...

"D" Is sooooo much true!

Mike Kanner said...

Great sympathy and I love your metric. If there is no objection, I plan on using in the future. Good timing as I am in the middle of grading analytic essays for numerous classes.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I wish I could change my grading scale to the following:

A = OMG YES!!!

C = meh

F = oh f*ck off.

I'd eliminate B and D if I ruled the world. :)

Anonymous said...

My personal favorite metric comes from my partner:

A is for Amazing
B is for Boring
C is for Confused
D's don't really exist
F is for... you'll figure it out.

Heinrich C. Kuhn said...

Great post! Thanks to it I found out that I don't assign meaningful grades, but just grades (and try to add meaning via comments):

We don't have "A+" here.
- Perfect but not amazing: A-
- Amazing, getting me to think or see things hitherto unthought or unseen by me: A (unless there are many many other faults)
- F : plagiarism, completely off topic, or way to many faults.
- Grades in between: not amazing, and a few, or some, or many major or minor faults, adding up to result in the grade given (cf. [German!] ).

Do your students "get" the meaning of your grades?