A Summary of the School Grading System in the United States

To get into depth with the grading scale, one must be familiar with the grades. When a student reaches a certain maturity level—one where they know how to use the restroom, can verbalize words, and can interact appropriately with children their own age—they can enter preschool and/or kindergarten (depending on the route their parents choose for them. The students learn the basic skills that they’ll need for the rest of their lives.

Grading is usually not done in the “A-F” way of grading (that’ll be mentioned later) at this point in the children’s lives. It’s typically done in a simpler way (i.e. E = excellent; S= satisfactory; P= progressing; U= unsatisfactory).

Once the basics have been learned, the student can then enroll in primary school. This is usually known as “elementary school” (first grade through sixth grade). While in primary school, students learn the basics of their future curriculum. They tend to have at least four required courses—types of mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts—other courses (such as physical education, chorus, band, art, etc.) may be included in their education, but are not necessities in some schools.

After finishing the sixth grade, students move on to middle school (grades seven through eight). Here, they continue learning basic knowledge, but the curriculum becomes more difficult. The basics they once knew will soon seem complex and foreign. They’ll learn that they have to study to keep their grades up. At this point, students even learn about their bodies and how they’re changing into young adults.

The “big” change comes after middle school. For secondary school, or grades nine through twelve, students enter their district’s main campus. They have more freedom than they did in the other grades, and they have the opportunity to find themselves. Secondary schools (depending on the school-funding) have extra-curricular activities. Students get the right to choose their own classes  and find their own group of friends.

High-school is also the place where the complex curriculum gets even more complex. Students no longer see the sky as being “blue”, but they also find out why it is that way. They explore the deeper-meanings in literature and get the chance to learn foreign languages. Students get more opportunities to become individualized in this environment, and they can enroll in classes that are up to their learning-speed. For those who are behind, remedial classes and tutoring can help them get back on schedule; average students can remain in their typical classes; “gifted students” can enroll in AP and Honors courses. The choice is up to them.

Unlike in the other stages of school, high-school is where the grades really matter. A student’s grade can determine whether or not they get into a college of their choice. Both, primary and secondary schools are on a grading scale of A-F. An “A” is the best possible grade, but an “F” marks failure. Teachers grade a student’s assignment based on their particular requirements, and they grade it accordingly:

A= 90-100%

B= 80-89%

C= 70-79%

D= 60-69%

F= 59% and below

The grades accumulate to final course grade. When averaging the grades throughout the year (adding up the percentages and dividing by the number of assignments), a person can find out their final grade. Some of the grade percentages can end up as decimals, and it’s the teacher’s decision on whether or not they round it up (for example, any number ending in a .5 can be rounded up to the next grade—95.5% becomes a 96%) or leave it as is.

Although primary and secondary schooling have the same grading scale, secondary school is the one that counts when it comes to getting a GPA, or grade point average. For each “A” a person gets as their final grade in a class, they get four points, for every “B”—three points, every “C”—two points, every “D”—one point, and for every “F”, the person fails. When someone fails, they have to retake the course to get a passing grade. To get their GPA score, one can multiply the grades by the number of credits, and then divide the sum by the total number of credit hours (i.e. if receiving an “A” for a three-credit course, one can multiply 4×3, and the result is 12. If you received a “B” for a two-credit course, you multiply 3×2 and the result is 6.”

Add total points (12+6=18). 

 Add together total number of credits (3+2=5). 

Divide the total number of points by the total number of credits (18/5). 

-The result in this case would be a 3.6 GPA.)

An appropriate GPA can help students get into colleges. Some can even get scholarships based on their educational success.