Greenwood School District 50

Office of Computing Services

 

SASIxp:  Grade Reporting

Using Numeric and Letter Grades in the Same School

February 10, 2001

 

INTRODUCTION

In South Carolina, all high schools (and, in the future, possibly all schools) are required by law to use the Uniform Grading Scale (UGS) to report student course grades.  The UGS is a numeric scale that assigns a specific “quality point” (QP) value to every grade between, and including, zero and 100.  The scale discriminates in QP values for College Prep/Tech Prep courses, Honors courses, and Advance Placement courses.  The UGS restricts the use of alphabetic grades for high school students because each grade must be converted to QP’s in order to determine ranks-in-class and scholarship eligibility. 

 

Additional restrictions on the use of alphabetic grades are imposed by SASIxp, the State’s school management software.  The documentation and trainers for SASIxp indicate that a school cannot use both numeric grades and alphabetic grades.  The school must choose one or the other.  This would seem the perfect match for grade reporting in South Carolina.

 

REALITY

Many high schools, however, need to report grades other than the UGS numeric values.  For example, students who fail a course because of excessive absences are not given a numeric grade; rather, an alphabetic grade (“FA” is used by Greenwood School District 50) is given.  Additionally, there are times when students do not complete the course requirements by the end of the grading period; thus, an alphabetic grade of “I” is traditionally given until the course requirements are completed.  Students who leave during a school year are traditionally graded with a “WP” (withdrew passing) or a “WF” (withdrew failing), each of which has no numeric value.  Also, students who transfer into a school from out-of-state often bring “pass/fail” grades for specific courses.  South Carolina schools have traditionally assigned “P” for those passing grades; yet, “P” has no value in the UGS scale.

 

The two high schools in Greenwood School District 50 have used, in the past, the alphabetic grades described above, as well as another for “no credit” (NC).  During the conversion from Osiris to SASIxp, those grades were brought forward exactly as they were posted in the Osiris transcript file – that is, letter grades came across as letter grades and are part of the current SASIxp Course History file.

 

At the end of the first semester of the 2000-2001 school year, those grades were entered (through CLASSxp) into the Grade file for the appropriate courses for the appropriate students.  Thus, the Course History file and the Grade file for both high schools contain letter grades for which there are no numeric equivalents – and, thus, no QP equivalent.

 

Each alphabetic grade does have an assigned value for credit attempted (and, thus, credit earned, if appropriate).  Also, each of the above alphabetic grades – except “P” – is assigned a QP value of zero.  Although still being discussed, a “P” has been assigned a numeric equivalent of “80” – which results in a QP value based on the academic tag of the course in which the “P” is assigned.

 

TESTING SASIxp FOR BOTH NUMERIC AND LETTER GRADES

In an effort to continue the use of its traditional alphabetic grades and to incorporate the State’s UGS, Greenwood School District 50 experimented with using both in the determination of student grade point averages (GPA’s).  The tests were set up to check the status of alphabetic grades (1) in the Course History file following conversion from Osiris to SASIxp, (2) in the GPA value for each student after conversion from Osiris, (3) in the SASIxp Grade file after teacher entry of final grades, (4) in the GPA value for each student including the Grade file and the Course History file, (5) in the Course History file after transferring the Grade file, and (6) in the GPA value for each student after transferring the Grade file to Course History.

 

The first test (checking the converted Course History file) was not, at first, promising.  There was no consistent pattern for the conversion of alphabetic grades.  The value of the grade was there (that is, FA, I, etc.); however, the credits attempted for those alphabetic grades were hit-and-miss.  Some had zero credits attempted, some (with the same letter grade) had one credit attempted although the course was a half-credit course, and some had the correct credit attempted values assigned (half, one, and two).  There appeared to be no pattern to those assignments.

 

At both high schools, the registrars corrected the credits attempted for all the alphabetic grades; thus, those should calculate correctly into the student GPA’s.

 

The next tests could not be completed until Grading Setup was completed and correct in SASIxp.  The following data were used in the setup:

 

q       Mark Definition atom:  Numeric Grades 0-100 and alphabetic grades (FA, I, NC, WP, WF, P) were entered.

q       GPA Definition atom:  Numeric Grades 0-100 and alphabetic grades (FA, I, NC, WP, WF, P) were entered with the appropriate QP values.  These values were entered for AP, CP, Honors, and CP/TP.  Neither school offers IB courses.

q       In the Course file, all 8th-grade for-credit courses had to be changed to 9th grade.  8th grade courses were not included in the GPA calculations for the school.  This may be related to the school’s grade span being defined as 9th – 12th.

q       Also in the Course file, 4-by-4 block course duration must be set to SX instead of YR.

 

Test number two involved printing transcripts for selected students, several of which were near the top of the GPA ranking at the end of the 1999-2000 school year.  Several other students were selected because their Course History records contained alphabetic grades of one kind or another.  The transcript data were entered into an Excel spreadsheet where calculations were automatically made regarding QP’s for each course and cumulative GPA’s were calculated.  In SASIxp, all students’ GPA’s were recalculated, for Course History records only, through the Update Course History atom.  The resulting GPA’s were the same in both cases for all the students checked.

 

In test three, the grades entered by teachers were checked to determine student records that contained alphabetic grades.

 

In test four, grades from the first semester of the 2000-2001 school year were added to the Excel spreadsheet and each student’s GPA was calculated.  Other transcripts were added to the spreadsheet for students who received alphabetic grades for the first semester.  In SASIxp, all students’ GPA’s were recalculated, including current grades for the end of the semester.  Those GPA’s were displayed in each student’s Course History record and matched those calculated in the Excel spreadsheet.  (It should be noted, however, that printed transcripts following this recalculation included only the GPA’s for courses currently in the Course History file, although the GPA’s displayed on-screen included courses not yet transferred to the Course History file.)

 

In test five, current grades were transferred to the Course History file.  A sample of student records containing alphabetic grades was reviewed to determine if letter grades were transferred accurately.  Each record was checked for the letter grade, the credits attempted, and the credits earned for each course.  In every case tested, the information transferred to the Course History file was correct.  (It must be noted that the credits attempted and earned were correct only if the Transfer Weights – in the Credit Definition atom – were correct.)

 

Test five was re-run after editing the GPA Definition setup data.  All the alphabetic grades were removed from the tables for TP, CP, Honors, and AP – before grades were transferred to the Course History file.  When current grades were transferred through the Update Course History atom, the alphabetic grades appeared in each student’s transcript; however, all credits attempted and earned were zero.  Adding the letters back to the GPA Definition setup tables and recalculating GPA’s did not correct the problem.  It appears that the letter grades must be part of the GPA Definition tables prior to transferring grades if the attempts and credits are to be correct.

 

In test six, GPA’s for all students were recalculated through Update Course History.  Since all grades had been transferred, current grades were not included.  The GPA’s displayed in each student’s Course History was correct and matched the GPA’s printed on the transcripts.  Those GPA’s also matched those calculated in the Excel spreadsheet.

 

CONCLUSIONS

The tests described above would seem to indicate that SASIxp can manage numeric and alphabetic grades in the same school.  Several caveats should be considered, however:  (1) The letter grades do not overlap the range of numeric grades (with the exception of “P,” which was not in the set of transferred grades at the end of the first semester); and (2) the tests were run only on one school’s data.  Replication at other schools is essential.

 

These tests were run on actual student data so that comparisons to known results could be made.  Additional testing will be done at the end of the second semester in an effort to confirm the findings reported above.

 

The following pages include information that may be helpful in replicating these results and in managing a school’s GPA calculation and reporting process.

 

 

GPA and Ranking Process

 

  1. Check the Course History file immediately after conversion.
    1. Query for each type of letter grade that could be in the Course History file.
    2. Include grade, student, course, mark, attempts, and credits.
    3. Adjust attempts and credits, as needed.
    4. Calculate GPA’s for all students (excluding current grades).
    5. Print a sample of transcripts, including some with letter grades.
    6. Compare sample transcripts to manually calculated GPA’s for the same students.
    7. Ensure that the Course History file meets your expectations for accuracy.

 

  1. For all transfer students
    1. Registrar manages the Course History entries, including appropriate letter grades.
    2. Ensure that all marks, attempts, and credits are correct.

 

  1. For the end of appropriate grading periods
    1. For 4-by-4 block schools, there will be two end-of-term grading periods per year.
    2. For traditionally scheduled schools, there will be only one end-of-year grading period.
    3. Query for each type of letter grade that could be in the Grade file.
    4. Include grade, student, course, mark, attempts, and credits.
    5. Adjust attempts and credits, as needed.
    6. Calculate GPA’s for all students (including current grades).
    7. Confirm that GPA’s are correct for a sampling of students.

 

  1. For the end of the school year
    1. Query for each type of letter grade that could be in the Grade file.
    2. Include grade, student, course, mark, attempts, and credits.
    3. Adjust attempts and credits, as needed.
    4. Transfer grades to the Course History file.
    5. Query for each type of letter grade that could be in the Course History file for the year just transferred.
    6. Include grade, student, course, mark, attempts, and credits.
    7. Adjust attempts and credits, as needed.
    8. Calculate GPA’s for all students (excluding current grades) and including only active students.
    9. Confirm that GPA’s are correct for a sampling of students.
    10. Print the rank-in-class lists for each grade level.
    11. Print the transcript labels for permanent labels.

 

 

Grade Reporting Setup Data

 

GRADING SETUP

In the Grading Setup atom, the following information is included in the Period tab:

 

Fall 1st Term              08/03/00       10/06/00       YR      S1       Q1

Fall 2nd Term             10/09/00       12/15/00       YR      S1       Q2

Spring 1st Term          01/03/01       03/09/01       YR      S2       Q3

Spring 2nd Term         02/12/01       05/18/01       YR      S2       Q4

 

On the Options tab, select the following items (other items do not affect GPA calculations):

 

GPA/QPA = Grade point average

Mark Conversion = Convert numeric marks to letter equivalent

Numeric Rounding = Round numeric grades

 

Also, set your Default GPA Type to the appropriate GPA calculation.  This information comes from your GPA Definition tables.

On the Marks tab, set up the relationships among your grades and grading periods.  For District 50, the following information is used:

 

1    Fall 1st               1      N       4       40                         2

2    Fall 2nd              2      N       4       40                         2

3    Fall Exam         2      N       4       20

4    Fnl Avg             2      N                         Yes

5    Spr 1st               3      N       8       40                         2

6    Spr 2nd              4      N       8       40                         2

7    Spr Exam          4      N       8       20

8    Fnl Avg             4      N                         Yes

 

 

On the Credits tab, District 50 used the following configuration because of its 4-by-4 block scheduling:

 

1    Fall 1st              

2    Fall 2nd             

3    Fall Exam         YR   S1     S2     Q1     Q2

4    Fnl Avg            

5    Spr 1st              

6    Spr 2nd             

7    Spr Exam         

8    Fnl Avg             YR   S1       S2    Q3     Q4

There are no data relating to GPA calculations on the Attendance, Rpt Cards, and Conduct tabs.

 

On the Advanced tab, set the GPA Credit Factor = Credit attempted.

 

There are no data relating to GPA calculations on the Progress tab.

 

MARK DEFINITIONS

The Mark Definitions atom, all the UGS values and the appropriate letter grades must be filled in the Mark column.  The Scanner Mark column can contain the letter grade equivalents for the UGS values.  The Credit column should contain “Yes” next to each grade for which credit is given (70-100 and the appropriate letter grades, such as “P”).  The Mark Cutoff and Mark Value columns must contain the UGS values that match the Mark column.  The letter grades do not have any value in these two columns.

 

GPA DEFINITIONS

The GPA Definitions atom requires that you enter the UGS values and the appropriate letter grades for each academic tag (course level) your school uses.  You can create up to four different grading scales, each of which will let you define the appropriate academic tags (course levels).

 

In South Carolina, there are only three academic tags that can be used with UGS – TP/CP, Honors, and AP.  In the GPA Definitions tables, you must set up CP and TP separately, although they will have exactly the same values.

 

In District 50, we set up only two grading scales (because we are converting all grade levels to UGS instead of staggering those starting with the ninth grade).  We set up one scale named “UGS GPA” and another named “4.0 GPA.”   On the screen for each grading scale you define, you must give the following information:

 

q       Weight GPA by Credit (if appropriate)

q       Include in Transcript (if appropriate)

q       GPA Decimal Place Accuracy (we calculate to 4 and show 3 – so we chose 3)

 

For the “UGS GPA” scales, we entered the appropriate UGS values and the letter grades, giving the appropriate mark and UGS grade point value for each.

 

For the “4.0 GPA” scales, we entered the appropriate UGS values and the letter grades, giving the appropriate mark and 4.0 grade point value for each (the equivalent of the 4-3-2-1-0 scale for A-B-C-D-F grades).

 

CREDIT DEFINITIONS

In the Credit Definitions atom, you must set the Credit Weights and the Transfer Weights.  For District 50, both screens are exactly the same, based on our 4-by-4 block scheduling model.  The values can be seen at left.

 

If these values are not set correctly, Course History credits and attempts will not be assigned properly when grades are transferred to the Course History file.  As a result, GPA’s will be calculated incorrectly.

 

Queries Used to Find Letter Grades in Grade File and in Course History File

 

The following queries can be used to find and correct inaccuracies in the Course, Course History, and Grade Detail files.  Unless noted otherwise, each is a DISPLAY or PRINT query.

 

COURSE FILES

The following queries will locate Course records with missing information that is important to the calculations of GPA’s and ranks-in-class.  Print each list as a check sheet for correcting the problems.

 

List Courses that Don’t Have Academic Tag

Use the following query to find courses that do not have an Academic Tag (TP, CP, Honors, AP, etc.).  All courses, inactive and active, must have an academic tag.  Older courses must have a tag if those could possibly be in a students Course History record.

 

ACRS  Course  Title  NonAcadem  SubjArea1  CredValue IF  NonAcadem =" "

(Show Inactive Records)

 

List Courses that Don’t Have Credit Assigned

Use the following query to find courses that do not have credit assigned.  All courses, inactive and active, must have an appropriate credit value.  Older courses must have an assigned credit if those could possibly be in a students Course History record.

 

ACRS  Course  Title  NonAcadem  SubjArea1  CredValue IF  CredValue =0

(Show Inactive Records)

 

List Courses that Don’t Have Subject Area Assigned

Use the following query to find courses that do not have an assigned subject area.  All courses, inactive and active, must have an appropriate subject area so that graduation requirements can be computed.  Older courses must have an appropriate subject area if those could possibly be in a students Course History record.

 

ACRS  Course  Title  NonAcadem  SubjArea1  CredValue IF  SubjArea1 =" "

(Show Inactive Records)

 

COURSE HISTORY AND GRADE FILES

The following queries will locate Course History records with information related to the calculations of GPA’s and ranks-in-class.  Print each list as a check sheet for correcting identified problems.

 

List Standard Letter Grades in Course History File

After conversion of your Osiris transcript file to the SASIxp Course History file, you can search for standard letter grades with this query.  Use this list to find records that must have letter grades converted to numeric values.

 

ASTU  ACHS  PermNum  LastName  FirstName  MiddleName  1,Grade  Course  CrsTitle  Mark  2,CredAtmpt  2,CredEarned IF  Mark ="A" OR  Mark ="B" OR  Mark ="C" OR  Mark ="D" OR  Mark ="F"

(Show Inactive Records)

 

List Alphabetic Grades that Could Be in the Course History File

The following query will list all Course History records that contain a specific alphabetic grade.  Change the alphabetic grade in the query to get lists of other possible letter grades.  Use this query to make sure your acceptable letter grades have the correct attempts and credits earned.

 

ASTU  ACHS  PermNum  LastName  FirstName  MiddleName  1,Grade  Course  CrsTitle  Mark  2,CredAtmpt  2,CredEarned IF  Mark ="FA"

 

List Alphabetic Grades that Could Be in the Grade Detail File

The following query will list all Grade Detail records that contain a specific alphabetic grade.  Change the alphabetic grade in the query to get lists of other possible letter grades.  Use this query to identify students whose Course History must be checked after transferring grades to the Course History file.

 

ASTU AGRL  PermNum  LastName  FirstName  MiddleName  1,Grade  Mark IF  Mark ="FA"