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Rethinking Letter Grades

A Five-Step Approach for Aligning Letter Grades to Learning Standards

By Caren Cameron & Kathleen Gregory
Categories: Education, Evaluation, Professional Development, Elementary, Secondary
Imprint: Portage & Main Press

Paperback : 9781553795377, 64 pages, October 2014
Ebook (PDF) : 9781553795384, 72 pages, October 2014

Table of contents



  • Who Is This Book For?
  • What Is This Book About?
  • Why Use a Different Approach? Why Now?
  • How Is This Book Organized?
  • What Are Our Intentions for Writing This Book?

1. Arriving at Letter Grades: Focus on Numbers

  • Some Key Research Findings
  • Changing our Focus

2. Arriving at Letter Grades: Focus on Learning

  • The Five-Step Process

3. Arriving at Letter Grades: Focus on Working It Through

  • Step 1: Identify Three to Five Big Ideas for One Subject Area
  • Step 2: Write Three Levels of Performance for Each Big Idea
  • Step 3: Identify Evidence that Shows Student Performance
  • Step 4: Highlight Descriptions of Learning on the Learning Map
  • Step 5: Determine a Letter Grade (and a Percentage if Necessary)

4. Arriving at Letter Grades: Focus on Questions

  • Frequently Asked Questions

5. Rethinking Letter Grades: Focus on Personal Findings

  • Three Reminders
  • Seven Findings

Appendix 1: Example of Conversion from a Letter Grade to a Percentage

Appendix 2: Big Ideas for Different Subject Areas

Appendix 3: Descriptive Language for Learning Maps

Appendix 4: Parent Brochure

Appendix 5: Conversation Cards

Appendix 6: Article: “Arriving at Letter Grades: Get Closer to the Learning”


Authors, Caren Cameron and Kathleen Gregory, offer a practical five-step process for arriving at letter grades that moves away from collecting a string of marks and calculating a grade. They offer an alternative assessment method by examining a wide variety of assessment tools (rating scales, scoring keys, rubrics, test scores, observation records, discussion notes, symbols, portfolio collections, and more) and match the student evidence with a description of achievement.