The grade doesn’t come with an asterisk

One of my students missed a few days of summer school due to illness and studied on his own. When he received only one point on a twelve point problem on a test, he vehemently argued that he should receive more points. I tried to explain why I graded the way I did, but he wasn’t buying it. He felt that I should have given him more credit, since he learned the topic without my help. I was available for help, every day, both before and after class.  All he had to do was ask.

A grade in a course doesn’t have conditions attached. It doesn’t say that the teacher was lenient with ill students or that the grade was altered in any way because of who the student was or what circumstances the student was in. It says the student met the requirements of the course to the degree the grade indicated.

My husband had a teacher who graded him harder than any other student because he was a better math student. He ended up with a B for doing better than students who got A’s. That would be fine, if the grade came with an explanation.

I don’t grade on a curve. If I have a good class, they get good grades. If I have a bad class, well, that’s too bad, but that’s what they get. A student should not be penalized because there are unusually many bright students in the class. Nor should they benefit if they are surrounded by dumb students. I encourage students to help each other, and make it clear that they won’t hurt themselves because someone they help gets a higher grade than they do. I would love to have a class I could give all A’s to. It wouldn’t bother me a bit to do so, if they deserved it.


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