Grading Scale Hell. Help Needed

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I'm in my first year of my first job post-PhD, a VAP.  I'm in a humanities field with a heavy essay component for all of my classes.  I hate grading.  Sure, it's time consuming; but the real problem for me is that I want it to be more objective and more systematic than it is in reality.  I have a detailed essay grading rubric and all, but I'm really struggling right now with the theoretical and mathematical side of calculating final grades.  In simpler terms, like a total idiot, I've found a way to make an ethical and philosophical conundrum for myself over things like whether a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale in which a 3.67 is an A- an a 3.33 is a B+ should be an A- or a B+.

So I suppose what I'm asking is: what grading scale should I use, and what is my rationale for using it?

So far this is how I approach things: My university has an explicit GPA scale of 4.0=A, 3.67=A-, 3.33=B+, and so on.  This scale is not (to my knowledge from the faculty handbook) imposed upon how faculty decide to do assessment in our own classes, but it is how the university calculates overall GPA and judges 'excellence' versus 'good.'  I'd like to reproduce this standard in my own grading, by giving letter grades for assignments, then converting them to the university's GPA values in order to average the total grade on assignments (simply because without converting the letter grade to a numerical value, what the hell is the average grade of a C-, B-, and A?).  So far I'm happy with this approach, because it's grounded by a university standard and it's as fair as grading essays is going to get.

My problem is with what happens next.  Suppose a student's grade in my class averages out to a 3.58.  It then becomes my call whether this is an A- or a B+, because this value is in between the standard I've been using (A- being 3.67 and B+ being 3.33).  By using my own system to decide which overall letter grade to assign in the end (for example, by making 3.5 the cutoff for an A- because that makes sense mathematically), do I undermine the credibility of my tracking the university grading scale in the first place?

I apologize for this being perhaps the worst post ever to appear on the fora.

You are really over thinking this. You need to accept that you're The Decider when it comes to grades.

Yes, don't think so much.  Assign grades on assignments.  Average those grades per the guidelines in the syllabus.  Post final grades based on the calculated average. And move on. 

No matter what you do, you have to create the cutoffs. Technically, your school is crediting students with the high end of the scale and you are using a scale that states: 4.0 to 3.68 is an A, 3.67 to 3.34 is an A-, 3.33 to 3.01 is a B+, 3.0 to 2.68 is a B, etc.

I'm not sure what the dilemma is. Either you use the scale or you don't.

Use 0-100. Much easier and much more accurate. You can easily grade an essay with these numerics.


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