The Symbolic Representation of the Marks in Education

Marks are crucial both for teachers and learners since they provide feedback about students’ achievements and help educators to evaluate the progress of learning. Even though teachers are not free to choose the symbolic representation of the mark, they can utilize different methods of comparison to focus on the most appropriate criteria (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2016). The most efficient way to understand the matter is to compare the approaches to marking of two different teachers.

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Mr. White gives grades to students using only test scores; at the same time, the student who improves the most in each subject during the grading period automatically receives an “A” for that subject. In other words, for the most part, Mr. White compares students to the established standards. He also utilizes comparisons with other students and the amount of effort. The fact that the teacher uses test scores as the primary evidence of achievement has several flaws.

First, the students may ignore other components of learning, such as class participation, homework, and attendance. Moreover, instead of learning the subjects, the students may learn to pass tests. Second, the standard of grading is challenging to set, and it ignores the peculiarities of students’ characters, temper, and abilities (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2016). However, Mr. White’s method is associated with some benefits. The system is easy to comprehend, and students have a clear understanding of what should be done. Moreover, the inclusion of competitive part and comparison of achievement with effort encourage the students to aim at improvement even if the results remain below standard.

Since the grading system utilized by Mr. White has only one component (test results), it is weighted at 100%. Even though the methods may be effective, it is generally suggested that several aspects of learning should be assessed to decrease stress and anxiety put on students during tests. I would recommend Mr. White to diversify his policy and use at least three grading components.

Mr. Bell also believes that competition between students is the key to success and creates a bulletin board with ranks of students according to their results. The teacher uses three criteria for marking, including test scores, class participation, and homework assignments. In other words, even though the teacher probably grades assignments against the acknowledged standards, Mr. Bells’ primary comparison is between students.

The central advantage of the system is that it arouses interest among pupils to improve the grades to get prizes. This system escapes from the traditional comparison against other students, which implies grading “on a curve,” such as ambiguity of grading decisions (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2016). However, there are certain drawbacks of the system because the competition does not acknowledge the interest of students with special needs (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2016). Moreover, having the achievements of students exposed may be considered as a privacy violation and lead to the psychological of underachieving students.

Even though there are some drawbacks, the system seems functional, and it can be used if everyone agrees to participate in the competition. I would recommend Mr. Bell to use the following weights for the grading components:

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  1. Test results – 50%
  2. Classwork participation – 30%
  3. Homework assignments – 20%

The rationale behind these weights is that homework may be done using outside help, such as parents, peers, or internet resources; therefore, the weight should be the lowest. Classwork participation is vital since it can facilitate the teaching and learning processes. However, participation in classwork is often voluntary, which implies that students will only speak when they are sure of the knowledge. Test results should always have the highest weight since they have the least degree of bias.


Kubiszyn, T., & Borich, G., D. (2016). Educational testing & measurement: Classroom applications and practice (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Symbolic Representation of the Marks in Education." June 21, 2021.


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