• Math Is Hard
In summary: A would've been a C or D at my current school.In summary, my sister's school has a grade scale of A = (90-100), B = (80-89), C = (70-79), D = (60-69) and F = 59 and below. A = (90-100), B= (80-89), C = (70-79), D= (60-69) and F = 59 and below.
Math Is Hard
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My sister's having kind of a rough time in high school this year. I was talking to her about it and I was really surprised to find out what her school's grade scale is:

Numeric Average | Letter Grade | Description

90-100 | A | Excellent Progress

80-90 | B | Good Progress

75-79 | C | Average Progress

70-74 |D | Poor Progress

69 and below |F | Failure

When I was in high school, the scale we had was very similar to what I have in college now. A = (90-100), B= (80-89), C = (70-79), D = (60-69) F = 59 and below.

I've never seen the 70-79 range get split the way it is done at my sister's school. Seems like it's more difficult these days to squeak by with a C! I only had to clear a 70, she has to at least get a 75.

Anyway, I'm here to do a little survey. I would like to hear from high school students on this board if possible. (or people who have recently been in high school or people who have kids in high school, etc). I would like to know if your grading scale is similar to the one at my sister's school.

p.s. I am not sure if 90 counts as a B or an A at my sister's school. I pulled these grade scales straight out of the school district's documentation. I am still reading through it trying to find clarification.

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is that numeric value on a 0-100 scale? Around here (scandinavia) 50% correct is usually a passing grade. I really think there needs to be a universal grading system :) I have no clue how A,B,C's work or the 4.0 scale that american uni's seem to use.

A = (90-100), B= (80-89), C = (70-79), D = (60-69) F = 59 and below.

I've never seen it otherwise, does she go to a private school?

Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it - please keep it coming- it's great to get opinions from students outside as well as inside the U.S.

whozum, she actually goes to a public school in Texas. go figure.

Around here (scandinavia) 50% correct is usually a passing grade.

That's how it is where I live (Croatia), as well. I really dislike High School, but thankfully it will be over soon and then I can move on to University.

Dracovich said:
is that numeric value on a 0-100 scale? Around here (scandinavia) 50% correct is usually a passing grade. I really think there needs to be a universal grading system :) I have no clue how A,B,C's work or the 4.0 scale that american uni's seem to use.

Yes, it's just a percentage. 90 = 90% correct

Dracovich, I agree with you - there should be a universal system, but I don't know if there is any hope of ever having an international standard for grading if the U.S. scales aren't even consistent among public schools in the same state!

At my high school we went A-100-93 B-85-92 C-78-84 D-70-77 F-69 and below.

gravenewworld said:
At my high school we went A-100-93 B-85-92 C-78-84 D-70-77 F-69 and below.
Are you in the U.S.? Was your school public or private? Thanks.

U.S. Private catholic school

In my current private school in Connecticut :

A - 90-100
B- 80-89
C- 70-79
D - 60-69

In my previous Indian International School located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates ( Middle east ) We used percentages instead of letter grades.. We had to secure 40% or more to pass the course/exam. 70% is considered average and 80% or above is considered good..

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A - 90-100
B- 80-89
C- 70-79
D - 60-69

I was in public high school and we had that system the entire time. And our teachers usually graded on curves, where the maximum possible points was reset to the number of points of the highest grade.

At my high school (in Canada) we only used numerical system, and a fail was <50% (which is the same at my current university).

From my private school-
90-100 A
80-89 B
70-79 C
Etc. Note we are the only school I am aware of that did not give actual GPAs to students, nor were we ranked. The reasoning behind this was they did not want 41 very intelligent girls getting all cutthroat as we did that enough just for who got cum laude (made for an interesting thing when I applied for scholarships however).
The public high school in my area I should've gone to had I not taken the private school route is as follows (my roommate is shouting over my shoulder that this is how all West Virginian schools are as well, if you're interested)-
94-100 A
85-93 B
78-84 C
Etc. Note that the public school I would've gone to had MASSIVE grade inflation going on so it wasn't that bad (enrolled in AP class= automatic A and such... yea there was a reason I didn't go there!).

Why do they do this?

Does someone high up in the school district decide that too many people are getting A's or C's. Do high schools get a rep if not enough people fail? Help the local economy by making sure not enough people go to college?

My old high school
AP class
5.0 100 -90%
4.0 89 - 80
... 10% increments
non AP
4.0 100-90%
3.0 89-80
...10% increments

After the year I graduated they had two cum laude one for when counting AP classes as regular 4.0-0 and anther counting AP classes as 5.0-0. It has been ~4 years since then. I think it has been two different people each time.

British Columbia Public High School Grade Scheme:

A 86-100
B 73-85
C+ 67-72
C 60-66
C- 50-59
F 0-49

ek said:
British Columbia Public High School Grade Scheme:

A 86-100
B 73-85
C+ 67-72
C 60-66
C- 50-59
F 0-49

And i thought our education system let people through much too easily.

Thank you everyone. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your feedback.
My sister's had a pretty hard time. On her last report card she fell just barely below 75% in Spanish 2 and Geometry and that was enough to get her kicked off her high school drill team. Not only that, but she's forbidden from even trying out for next year, even if she brings her grades up before the end of the term. She's very upset over the situation.
She's a good kid and she works hard. She does great in her other classes - especially science and health - and I think the school is being a little bit harsh with her.

Wow...I agree. I'm not sure what a "drill team" is, but I'd be willing to bet it has nothing to do with either Spanish or Geometry. (Edit, have just learned it refers to somewhat military-like, parade marching with cool maneuvers, rifle twirling etc.) So I'm guessing that it was your sister's cumulative average that the drill team was using as a criterion, and those two courses managed to lower it past the "cutoff" (?). This fixation on marks for something like a team is ludicrous. Doesn't the fact that she made the team in the first place speak to her worthiness of being on it? What about the skills she's developed as part of the team? Aren't they needed? The analogy to a sports team would be like the coach saying, "well, you're a skilled player and have become an integral part of this team, but you suddenly don't meet our artificial academic standards, so we're going to boot you off."

As illogical as it is, it's quite a common practice I think, that a student's academic performance governs her opportunities in other areas. What really boggled my mind was their unwillingness to reconsider her for this team next year should she once again meet their ridiculous requirements. Huh? So, despite the fact that she is clearly capable of maintaining that standard based on her past performance, the moment she fails to do so, they assume that she never ever will again, and even if she does, it is no longer valid?

Well MIH, you managed to get me all worked up about it. Now if only you can provoke the same response in someone at the school.

Am i missing something? Are the tests on that scale easier or something? It seems weird that standardized tests such as those that one that measures mathmatical understanding between nations etc, seems to not rank scandinavia below USA, but still if a passing grade is 70% right then that would imply that they are getting a bigger % right on their tests then people in scandinavia. 70% right here is a respectable grade 80% is good and anything above is great.

Can it really be the same tests with different scales of passing? That would either mean that the american education system is vastly superior and produces better results, or that a ****load of people are failing (i'd guess that if the cutoff was at 70% then about 30% of students were failing). Then again maybe people would just automaticly conform to a different scale and try harder.

Why is it that the US is consistently not ranked near the top in science and math scores on tests when compared to other nations, but we produce a lot of the top scientists in almost every field?

Mine is exactly the same as Andromeda321's scale.
94-100 A
85-93 B
78-84 C...
Public School in Iowa.

PRodQuanta said:
Mine is exactly the same as Andromeda321's scale.
94-100 A
85-93 B
78-84 C...
Public School in Iowa.

I'm glad I didn't go to high school with you. I'd probably still be trying to graduate!

cepheid, thanks for your thoughts. I got some good news this morning. The school district has decided to let her try out for next year after all.

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cepheid said:
Wow...I agree. I'm not sure what a "drill team" is, but I'd be willing to bet it has nothing to do with either Spanish or Geometry. (Edit, have just learned it refers to somewhat military-like, parade marching with cool maneuvers, rifle twirling etc.) So I'm guessing that it was your sister's cumulative average that the drill team was using as a criterion, and those two courses managed to lower it past the "cutoff" (?).

The drill team accompanies the marching band (they're the ones that twirl flags and do the dancing and stuff while the band plays in formations). Things like that fall under the same category as athletics in terms of grade requirements. It's not that you need good grades to be a good rifle twirler, it's that if you can't keep your grades up, then it's considered an activity that's taking time away from your studying, which you clearly need to do more of if you aren't passing (may or may not be true). So, having to maintain a certain grade average to stay on the team is really intended to protect the students. It also gives the "dumb jocks" incentive to spend a little time studying, so when they discover they aren't going to walk out of high school with an NFL contract, they have a chance at doing something else.

I'm wondering if those schools that have grade scales other than every 10 percentage points is a different letter are really tougher, or do they just inflate the scores to still give the students pretty much the same letter grade they'd get anywhere else? I think this is why colleges have to rely so much on standardized testing for admissions decisions, because it's the only way to find out if an A means the same across all the different high schools, especially when they know it doesn't.

Incidentally, colleges and universities also have differences in grading scales. Back when I gave med school applications a shot, they have one standard application service, so you apply once and fill in the list of schools you want your application sent to (a few med schools use their own applications or want supplemental materials sent, but most just rely on the standard application). I remember the biggest pain of filling it out was the section to calculate your GPA, because they didn't just want what you college gave you as a GPA, they wanted it on a standardized scale. So, they had pages of all the different grading systems universities used, did they have pluses and minuses, what was the % cut off for each grade, etc. Then you recalculated your GPA based on their scale. Or maybe they just did that to weed out anyone who can't do basic math.

MIH, a lot of high school students really struggle with geometry. It's just done so differently from any other math classes that they really run into problems with it. It's the only time in secondary school students are expected to know how to do proofs. I don't know if there's much you can do to really help someone learn that if they aren't understanding it either. That class sticks out in my mind because all our teacher ever said when someone would ask for further explanation of how to attack a proof was, "It's all just logic, you just have to be logical." I actually really excelled in that class, but when my friends would ask for help or want to know how I studied or prepared, etc., there was nothing I could tell them, it was like it either clicked and came to you intuitively or it didn't. I guess being able to memorize all those long lists of theorems and corollaries and not get them confused was a big part of it, and then the rest was managing to recall the right theorem at the right time.

You know, as I think on it, learning a language might use a similar thought/learning process. Again, you learn huge lists of vocabulary words, a lot of grammatical rules, and then you have to recall the right words and right rules at the right time to construct sentences. We spend too much time memorizing lists of things and then regurgitating them as a list form, or with prompts (define this term...) in schools that a previously good student may suddenly begin to have trouble when they can no longer rely on those prompts to search their brain for stored information.

I wonder if there's a generalizable method to help her develop that skill better so she can pull her grades up. For example, as she's going through flash cards to learn vocabulary words in Spanish, instead of just giving the definition of the word she's looking at, have someone ask her to now recall a synonym of that word, or an antonym, or if it's a noun, name a verb that could follow it in a sentence. In geometry, when she's going through her list of theorems, when she describes one, then have her try to recall one or two other ones that are similar, you know, like Side Angle Side and Side Angle Angle (my memory is hazy, I think that's one...I just will never forget my geometry teacher telling us over and over that there is no such theorem as Angle Side Side, to the giggling amusement of the class; it was the only thing resembling a joke she ever told us) for determining the lengths and angles of a triangle. She may just need help finding a better way to study this material that's different from what she's done before.

Getting her to accept any help at all has been a real challenge. Her grades have slipped before but she absolutely refused to go to a tutor. She just said "It's ok, I can handle it." I think it's an ego thing with her. She wants to do everything herself. She's stubborn as a mule. Must be genetic. I also went through an eye-rolling, door-slamming phase at 16.
Mom is forcing her to go to a tutor now, but she's been fairly agreeable to it since she got really got her butt in a sling this time.

If it still matters, here's my school's grading system:

100-89.5 =A
89 -79.5 =B
79-69.5 =C
69-59.5 =D
59&below=F

yomamma said:
If it still matters, here's my school's grading system:

100-89.5 =A
89 -79.5 =B
79-69.5 =C
69-59.5 =D
59&below=F

Thanks, yomamma. Are you in the U.S.?

franznietzsche said:
And i thought our education system let people through much too easily.

We don't get our grades inflated like Americans. Some school in Iowa has anything below 78 a F? Either 80% of kids fail, or there is some serious grade inflation going on. Or of course the curriculum is a joke, which is a definite possibility.

I actually had different scales for different teachers but the standard was the
100-90 A
89-80 B
79-70 C
69-60 D
59-0 F

but I had a couple teachers said below 70 was failing, or similar standards like the:
94-100 A
85-93 B
78-84 C...

ek said:
We don't get our grades inflated like Americans. Some school in Iowa has anything below 78 a F? Either 80% of kids fail, or there is some serious grade inflation going on. Or of course the curriculum is a joke, which is a definite possibility.

Okay, we better check what we mean when we're talking about percentages here. We're not talking about percentile ranking among students; we don't fail 60% of the students (does the Canadian system fail 50%?). We're talking about percentage of the material mastered as determined on an exam or through graded assignments.

I really don't know how you can get any reasonable assessment of students with such a compressed grade scale; only a 20% point range to determine the entire ranking of a class? With only 5 percentage points separating an A from a B, those teachers must have quite a challenge in putting together an exam that is well-written enough to sort with that degree of precision! Then again, maybe they do take it seriously and expect the students to master 80% of the material to pass the class. I've been concerned about whether a student who has only learned 60% of the material taught in high school should really be allowed to graduate. Maybe that school in Iowa has really raised the bar and decided that it's not okay to only know 60% of the material. Maybe it's their way of raising standardized test scores too; if you fail them out and don't promote them and encourage them to drop out of school at 16, they'll never take those standardized tests that the No Child Left Behind Act thinks are a good measure of school quality.

I sure would want to dig into the motives of a school that decides anything below 80% is failing.

franznietzsche said:
And i thought our education system let people through much too easily.

Highschools in Alberta use just a percentage. The Average grade to get into university is 86%, (comming from high school). To get scholarships and what not you need a for sure <90%. Also it is important to remember that the average scores on the Final Exams are 75%. Alot of people don't get into university there first try...

So therefore "our" (canadian) education system does not allow people to get through too easily.

Moonbear said:
Okay, we better check what we mean when we're talking about percentages here. We're not talking about percentile ranking among students; we don't fail 60% of the students (does the Canadian system fail 50%?). We're talking about percentage of the material mastered as determined on an exam or through graded assignments.

I really don't know how you can get any reasonable assessment of students with such a compressed grade scale; only a 20% point range to determine the entire ranking of a class? With only 5 percentage points separating an A from a B, those teachers must have quite a challenge in putting together an exam that is well-written enough to sort with that degree of precision! Then again, maybe they do take it seriously and expect the students to master 80% of the material to pass the class. I've been concerned about whether a student who has only learned 60% of the material taught in high school should really be allowed to graduate. Maybe that school in Iowa has really raised the bar and decided that it's not okay to only know 60% of the material. Maybe it's their way of raising standardized test scores too; if you fail them out and don't promote them and encourage them to drop out of school at 16, they'll never take those standardized tests that the No Child Left Behind Act thinks are a good measure of school quality.

I sure would want to dig into the motives of a school that decides anything below 80% is failing.

Sorry, I can see how what I said was ambiguous.

All the numbers we use for grades are raw grades, not percentiles or anything like that. The 80% comment came from the fact that only about 20% of the kids at my old high school average over 78% and thus 80% of them would fail in a system like that Iowa one.

Very few kids failed at my school, but then again my school was well above average and is in an affluent area. Lesser schools probably fail 10% of kids. Actually, I really don't know how many kids fail. I suppose the Ministry of Education keeps track of that stuff, don't know if it gets published though.

Our University entrance requirements are also "lower" than American schools I think. When in actual fact they are probably similar or more stringent.

For my school, the University of Victoria, which is considered one of the better schools in Canada, the entrance cutoff average was ~83% last year. It varies from year to year between 78-85. And these are high standards. Not many kids achieve grades this good. In fact the provincial government is taking to measures to lower the requirements, because they are so high. Averaging 90% gets you an automatic (pretty much anyway) \$2000 scholarship (pays for a semester). Probably about 10% of the people who go to UVic got this scholarship I would think. Averaging 90% here is actually something to be proud of, very few kids do it. Not because we're all dumb, but because we don't get babied in school and get given 100% in a class that we actually got 60 in just because it is "hard".

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Do you guys have "intermediate rating" such as

A+
A
A-
B+
B
etc.

??

quasar987 said:
Do you guys have "intermediate rating" such as

A+
A
A-
B+
B
etc.

??

British Columbia doesn't. None of those anyway. Only C+ and C- for some reason.

Here at UVic we have those grades though. A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D F

I agree with ek, SOMETHING must be different. Back home (Iceland) we used a 0-10 scale, where you can get 0-10 and half scores as well (7,5 for example). Although i don't have any exact scores i'd guess that the average lies between 6-7. I got around 8,35 out of "Pre-high school" or whatever to call it (graduated this at 16), then we go on to 4 years of "high school", and my school required at least a 8.0 to enter, so we had pretty high standards, and i'd guess that the average when graduating was around 6-7 as well there (i only got 7,2 then and was above average i believe).

So SOMETHING must be different, either that or we're just a lot less intelligent then Americans, which doesn't seem to be the case when looking at those math studies for example with kids around the same age.

derekmohammed said:
Highschools in Alberta use just a percentage. The Average grade to get into university is 86%, (comming from high school). To get scholarships and what not you need a for sure <90%. Also it is important to remember that the average scores on the Final Exams are 75%. Alot of people don't get into university there first try...

So therefore "our" (canadian) education system does not allow people to get through too easily.

Admission averages depend on the faculty you're entering. 86% sounds too high for Faculty of Science at University of Alberta (I know because I attended that university in my first year). I thought their cutoff was in the high seventies. So either it has gone up universally since then (umm...3 years ago only), or you weren't referring to the Faculty of Science (don't remember what the engineering entrance averages were), or maybe U of C is just that much harder! But that sounds wacky...I don't think so somehow.

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