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The Dirty Secret of High School: Grades and GPAs Don’t Necessarily Reflect Knowledge

Thanks to the miracle of social media, I read an article today that goes a long way to explain–from a teacher’s perspective–how silly it is that we make a huge deal of the difference between a B+ (measured at 89% in some grading systems) and an A- (measured at a 90%). Can this single percentage point–which marks the difference between admission and rejection and top universities, between winning scads of scholarship dollars and taking on loads of debt–really mean so much when it comes to a the amount a student has LEARNED?

The article entitled “It’s Time to Stop Averaging Grades,” is written by Rick Wormeli and published on the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) website, makes these primary points.

1. School grading systems based on percentages are arithmetically handy, but they do not measure knowledge or skills.

2. Teachers’ assignments and internal grading systems may not be consistent within the school.

3.  Differences of tenths or even hundredths of a point can mean the world of difference to students seeking admissions–and scholarships.

4.  Teachers and schools are being dishonest if they stand on arithmetic, rather than educational, principles.

I highly recommend the article to all educators…and to parents who anticipate an argument with a teacher over a few hundredths of a point on  a test.

Mark Montgomery
Independent Educational Consultant


Reader Interactions


  1. Sounds interesting! I have to agree from personal experience. Sadly, in too many tests I would study just to pass the test, then pretty much forget everything.

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