The Ferris State University semester concludes this week. Exams are behind us, and now there is the all important matter of performance assessment, i.e., grading. Today, I find myself reading and passing judgment on the semester’s concluding assignments from my students of my small business management and risk/insurance courses. I’m taking a break from that activity to post a few general thoughts on the process.
The academic “A-F” grading scale has been with us for decades, and we’re conditioned to react to this subset of innocent alphabetic letters with an array of emotions. We rejoice in “A” and dread the “F” with a spectrum of feelings in between. We have even adopted the academic letter grade scale to various professional and entertainment pursuits. Some Hollywood films are “A” and some are “F” – NFL teams receive letter grades for their draft performance – some companies even use the academic scale in employee evaluations.
As a society, we seem to have this ingrained desire to assess and classify performance on the basis of letter grades, that translate into grade point averages, and implicitly into some expectation regarding future performance. Which leads me to two thoughts that I will leave you to ponder…
The oft-used phrase in financial prospectus documents may apply to grading scales as well: “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
I’m told that a diminishing number of companies consider an entry-level job applicant’s GPA anymore, so why do we continue to use this assessment system?