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Examination Grades: How Many Should There Be?

M. J. Cresswell
British Educational Research Journal
Vol. 12, No. 1 (1986), pp. 37-54
Published by: Wiley on behalf of BERA
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1500882
Page Count: 18
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Examination Grades: How Many Should There Be?
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Abstract

There is no generally accepted rationale for deciding the number of grades which should be used to report examination results. Two schools of thought on this matter have been identified in the literature. One view is that the number of grades should reflect the reliability of the underlying mark scale. The other view focusses upon the loss of information incurred when the mark scale is reduced to a number of fairly coarse categories. The first of these views usually implies the adoption of a relatively small number of grades; the second view implies the use of a considerably larger number of grades. In this paper, the various factors which determine the relative merits of these two schools of thought are considered in relation to the different functions which examinations fulfil. The intention is to enable better informed choices to be made concerning the number of grades to be used in the grading scheme of any particular examination.

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