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About Assignment Scales

Service notice: Catalyst GradeBook has been retired effective June 16, 2022

Gradebook allows you to choose from a number of scales to score each assignment:

Points: You can enter the number of points a student earned out of the total possible points.
You can enter non-negative numbers up to five digits and with two decimal places, such as 9.25 (out of 10 possible).

Percentage: You can enter a percentage to indicate the student’s achievement on the assignment, or number of items answered correctly.
You can enter non-negative whole numbers, e.g. 85.

Text: You can enter notes about student performance on that assignment, track necessary information (such as group # or project
partners), or provide brief comments to students about an assignment. The maximum number of characters you can enter is 255.

4.0 Scale: You can set up a 4.0 scale for assignments that converts to percentage scores for the purposes of calculating total scores. Use a 4.0 scale when you want students to receive their scores as values on the 4.0 scale and you want GradeBook to calculate the total score.

Custom: Custom scales allow you to define scores or descriptors that distinguish meaningfully between different levels of performance on an assignment.
Choose a custom scale if you wish to use any of the following to describe student performance:

  • Rubric or rating scale (e.g. Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor)
  • Letter grade scale (e.g., A, B+, etc.)
  • Pass/Fail
  • Credit/No Credit

When you choose a custom scale, you must create a conversion table. First, you define the scores or descriptors (such as “Pass”) you will use to grade the assignment.
The score or descriptor you choose will display to students when their scores are published. Then, you must enter an equivalent percentage for each score or descriptor. These equivalent percentages are used by GradeBook when calculating
total scores.

This conversion table must be “customized” by you because agreement does not exist on how these scores or descriptors should map meaningfully onto a percentage scale. Because GradeBook converts all scores to a percentage in order to calculate a student’s total score for the class, the conversion table ensures that the meaning of your custom scale (what it communicates about student achievement) is preserved in this calculation. If a straight mathematical conversion is used instead of professional judgment, students (especially those with lower scores) may be unduly penalized.

EXAMPLE: Professor Berg assigns challenging problem sets as homework. He is most interested in seeing how
his students approach each problem, not whether they solve the problem correctly. He uses a 3-point rubric
and a custom scale to communicate his emphasis on process over product.

Rubric scores Custom scale
3 – Effective strategies and correct answer 3 = 100%
2 – Effective strategies, incorrect answer 2 = 95%
1 – Attempted, ineffective strategies 1 = 85%
Last reviewed January 19, 2022