What does an A mean? What does a B or C mean? Having survived the NJ public school system, I know they mean different things to different people. But at least I can be sure that when I try to convince my Grandma that F means fantastic (on a spelling test of course, if you couldn’t guess from this blog) – she won’t buy it. My mother had the same grading system in the 60s.
Here in Sweden, since I moved here, they have had 4 different grading systems. That is 4 different assessment systems teachers had to understand, interpret and apply in little more than a decade.
There was the 1-5 system. Then the VG-G-UG (high pass-pass-fail). Then they added an MVG (very high pass). Then they switched to an A-F system.
Most of the changes were due to policy changes directly from the government, that while built on actual pedagogical research, lacked the one thing I personally think is most important in a grading system – stability and general understanding of what each grade means.
Yes, in the US the grade C is supposed to be average, but the whole grading system is so inflated that C really means ‘poor’ in most schools. And that is OK because it is generally understood to be so. Many report cards will also include an explanation of each grade.
Teachers in Sweden have just barely managed to establish what an MVG means and it disappears.
If you want to give Swedish kids a fair shot, and lessen their stress levels, quit pulling the carpet out from underneath them, politicians, and give them a leg to stand on.