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Research Article
Open Access Peer-reviewed

Teachers’ Perception of Letter Grading System and Its Challenges a Qualitative Study in Vyas Municipality of Tanahun

Bharat Kafle
American Journal of Educational Research. 2020, 8(9), 622-632. DOI: 10.12691/education-8-9-3
Received June 01, 2020; Revised September 02, 2020; Accepted September 11, 2020

Abstract

This article has been written on the issues of teachers’ perception of the Letter Grading System (LGS) and its challenges in the context of Vyas Municipality of Tanahun along the current academic years of 2020. Its purpose is to explore the teachers’ perception of LGS and identify how to face the major challenges of it. This study is based on phenomenological design and preferred to social constructivism on the concern of postmodernism. I employ purposeful sampling methods and use a tool of a semi-structured interview protocol for data collection. Basically, the teachers’ experience is found about the LGS that is positively relevant, applicable, enthusiastic, and appropriate for challenging the education system in Nepal. However, students and their parents’ perceptions are being simply ensuing liberal promotion policy with an upgrade to their child without any obstructions. Thus, there is a gap between the practices of the evaluation procedure and the perception of teachers about the LGS for getting betterment of students ‘output. As I explore, the LGS has measured the student’s competency and cognitive domain on the basis of nine progressive scales in regard to their providing performance opportunity. At last but not least, through the opinion of experience teacher, I conclude that LGS has, however, biased less, accountable, fruitful, and merit-based measuring tools of evaluation in the field of education without incorporated non-standardized tests in school evaluation at present. If possible, to incorporate non-testing devices as assignment, LGS has far better in evaluation procedure in school evaluation system in modern times.

1. Introduction

Letter grading system (LGS) is one of the modern and highly accepted evaluation system in the field of education 1. Theoretically, the functions of a grading system is to motivate students to work harder and perform better 2. It had been easily accepted and firmly practiced in developed countries for many decades. Which was valid and convenience in western countries to measure the educational and other varied capabilities of their children.

Even though, the first instances of an attempt to evaluate students systematically appeared in the diary of Ezra Stiles, who was president of Yale University in the 18th century. In 1785, he divided students who were present for an examination into four ranks or grades: optimi, second optimi, inferiors and pejores--Latin terms indicating relative quality, best, worse and worst 3. “… [G]rading is relatively recent phenomena in education. In fact, prior to 1850, grading was virtually unknown in schools in the United States 4. It was significant because it helps us when and how the concept of LGS is originated and provides the idea of grading of student in different ways in different level of assessment system.

Similarly, different research claims that letter grades were first used in the United States at the end of the 19th century. Both colleges and high schools began replacing other forms of assessment with letter and percentage grades in the early 20th century 3. While grading systems appear to be fairly standardized in the U.S., debates about grade inflation and the utility of grades for fostering student learning is continued.

In the context of Nepal, we have had prior to follow numerical marking evaluation system in all types of exam to assess the achievement of the children, till 2016. The evaluation system of Nepal was strictly formal and structured base. The major purpose of assessment is to communicate achievement level of the learners to different stakeholders 5. It was directed through their local bodies from top to bottom to follow the rules and regulation what they were determined about the system of evaluation. There were no evidences of flexibility and individual treatment strategies without located place and certain time span. There were so many barriers and not provision to upgrading students through the assignment on single subjects or varies and not possible ways to upgrading their qualification.

In addition, in the old evaluation system, there were lots of problems that makes obstructions to achieve high scores. Genius students have had hardly got first divisions on that scrutinize numeration system of written assignment 5. The values were given the students by securing the high score than cut off scores seen in the mark sheets but not insist and judge through their inherent creative and constructive activities. Students are appreciated who have obtained high percentage or division in the examination. One of the most commonly identified issues with traditional evaluation is that they can be subjective (more or less so depending on the method of evaluation used) and influenced by (conscious or unconscious) teacher bias 6, 7. Moreover, students can be biased when samples of learners’ work are graded or scored differently by varying individuals despite using the same evaluation criteria 8, 9. Considering these above mentioned weaknesses of traditional evaluation system of Nepal, Ministry of Education (MoE) ensued the letter grading in evaluation system of SEE as a reformatory ways of old one as far as possible 5.

After being long discussion of Letter Grading System, in official level, it is concluded that the Ministry of Education (MoE), and Office of Examination Controller (OEC) had taken intensive decision to implements Letter Grading system since 2015 in SEE of Nepal 5 and proceeds to other classes seeing bright future of students to progress on the basis of their meritocracy. It is because that can be separated different level of students at the same class on the basis of degree of competencies. This study provides insight into the impact of a lenient grading scale versus a strict grading scale on students’ achievement, where the level of “average” mastery in the letter category (the grade of D), is coincident with the minimum passing requirement of the Secondary Education Examination (SEE).

In this sense, some educationists posit that it measures capabilities of learners on the basis of hierarchical category. Educationist exclaims, “…New SLC grading system reflects students’ capability better 10.” The level of students is categorized on different point score average in subject wise analysis and analyzed as grade point average to the whole subject. The major concern is, the students are not ‘failed’; as there is not provision for ‘E’ grade, however, there is a provision for categorizing insufficient performance 10. If a student scores less than a GPA of 1.6 and fails to achieve D+ grade in at least one subject, they are not eligible to enroll in grade eleven.

In developed countries, it is accepted and implemented easily because of its consistency with varies categorical qualities of standardization and parents are also well educated and to be cleared to steer their children in home about the policies and practices of letter grading system. Students or consumers is well known about the provision of it which gives positive motivation to learn. It might be categories on the basis of categorical scales form lower level very poor to outstanding in grading system to them. In contrary to a developing country, like Nepal implementation process is same but accepting attitude of consumers and stakeholder’s is seen different as anonymous. It is still being implemented in Nepal to fulfil their donor’s interest and policies via the World Bank and other grands of different donors like UNDP, UNICEF, and JAICA are provided economic funds for the improvement of education outputs of SEE.

They have allocated the budget for Nepal through different education projects and commission per fiscal year. However, students’ performance is simply not improved accordingly despite the more investment in school education by the government of Nepal. Nonetheless, quantitatively, numbers of indorsed students have increased as per years in SEE. Therefore, passed rate of students are increased and most of the passed students are in low grades especially below C+. Thus, we claimed that number of higher grading students or quality learners are not increased and only low graded and less skillful man produced through our education system in Nepal by LGS. That is why, it is necessary to do a research and take pro-active step to remedies on possible confusion and draw out to overcome them and develop guidelines in time for implementation of LGS in Nepal. Hence, the article has attempted to explore and analyze the teachers’ perceptions of the LGS with its major challenges.

2. Literature Review

The chapter provides a framework by reviewing the literature and theories relevant to the study. Sections of the literature review are structured around themes within the teacher’s perceptions about grading practices and its challenges. The term teacher perceptions denotes the range of teacher thinking about grading and grading practices with its challenges. Perceptions can include experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and understandings-ranging from awareness and recognition to deeper meaning-and can be characterized by having value and even emotional components. Because perceptions are more elusive than practices, they are more difficult to document. However, this research shows why these perceptions are important for understanding grading practices and challenges. Grades are thus, especially predictive of academic success in more open admissions higher education institutions 11. On the basis of different e-resources, electronic database, journals and magazines, and books and book sites of literature whatever I found, I have reviewed thoroughly with taking point and analyzed them.

CERID explained that there were so many barriers in old evaluation system and students were not upgraded through the assignment on single subjects or varies and no possible ways to upgrade their qualification 13. In fact, in traditional evaluation system, there were lots of problems that makes obstructions to achieve high scores. Genius students hardly got first division on the scrutinize numeration system of written test. Students are appreciated on the basis of obtained high percentage or division in the examination.

In traditional evaluation, one of the most commonly identified issue is that examiner can be subjective and influenced by teacher bias 8, 14, 15. Moreover, students can be biased when samples of students work are graded or scored differently by varying individuals despite using the same evaluation criteria 8, 9, 15. Instead of it, for increasing motivation and create liability, LGS is useful to implement in evaluation system. Reddy claims that a grading system in education may be a system that's familiarize assess the academic performance of a student that is entirely based mostly upon points alone 16. She illustrates that there are seven forms of grading systems such are “Percentage grading - From zero to a hundred Percent; Letter grading and variations - From ‘A’ Grade to ‘F’ Grade; Norm-referenced grading - comparison students to every different typically letter grades; Mastery grading - Grading students as “masters” or “passers” once their attainment reaches a pre-specified level; Pass/Fail - mistreated the Common Scale as Pass/Fail; Standards grading (or Absolute-Standards grading)- compare student performance to a pre-established customary (level) of performance; and Narrative grading -Writing Comments concerning students” 16.

Reddy examines that LGS leads to a better engagement of ideas, makes classwork easier, provides the scholars a noticeable plan about their weaknesses and strengths, grading pattern description and takes the pressure aloof from the scholars at certain levels. On the other hand, the lack of incentives, weak in scoring system, no accuracy in measurement of performance and the knowledge of the students as well as not motivating pupils for competition are the drawbacks of grading system. Even though, Letter Grading System is one of the appropriate assessment system because it has compared the capacity of students, made easy to category and referred to the further study with the beneficial achievement on the criteria of GPA.

According to Diana Marie and Guskey, “grading is one of a teacher’s greatest challenges and most important professional responsibilities” 17, 18. Regardless of the importance of this action, teachers receive little if any formal training in grading practices and the effectiveness of various grading methods 19. Due to the lack of preparation and information concerning effective grading methods, teachers tend to utilize strategies that was experienced more than students about the fairness and reasonable aspects about the LGS 19. Mainly, as Diana Marie points out, “most teachers do what was done to them” 18. It is claimed that teacher’s accountability is more valuable to implement letter grading system in assessment. Teacher must take training and that is utilized in classroom gives the better outcomes. Thus, performance of students can be improved and measured by using LGS on the intents of experiences, attitudes and understanding of teachers.

Guskey & Link exclaimed about the LGS as ‘teachers varied significantly within grade levels in how much they emphasized achievement and non-achievement “process” factors 20. Secondary teachers tended to give more weight to achievement factors 21. It is verified that secondary student’s weight can be graded on the basis of inflation or deflation marks of achievement factors which is determined through the process of teaching learning activities in classroom and teachers motivating behaviors.

Reviews by Simon et al. explained that debated whether grading should be norm- or criterion-referenced, based on clearly defined standards for student learning 22. Although high schools tended to stay with norm referenced grades to accommodate the need for ranking students for college admissions 23. Similarly, Brookhart et al, explained a probable error of around 5 in a 100-point scale 23, Starch recommended the use of a 9-point scale (i.e., A+, A-, B+, B-, C+, C-, D+, D-, and F) and later tested the improvement in reliability gained by moving to a 5-point scale based on the normal distribution 24, 25. Their studies contributed to the movement in the early 20th century away from a 100-point scale. The ABCDF letter grade scale became more common and remains the most prevalent grading scale in schools in the U.S today. Similarly, In Nepal, there are also nine category like A+, A, B+, B, C+, C, D+, D & E letter grade scale are implemented for assignment of students. Whereas A+ is category as outstanding, D is insufficient and E is graded as very insufficient 26.

Different research articulated that teachers also vary in executing LGS practices 27, especially in the use of common appraisals, least grading policies, accepting work late with no penalty, and allowing students to retest and replace poor scores with retest scores. These evidences are mostly found in Nepalese education system. Teachers perceive grades to have assessment according to what they can do for individual students. Many teachers use their sympathetic of individual student conditions, their instructional experience, and perceptions of justice, reliability, accuracy, and fairness to make professional judgments, instead of merely relying on a grading algorithm.

This recommends that grading practices may vary within a single classroom, just as it does between teachers, and that this is appreciated at least by some teachers as a needed element of precise, fair grading, not a problem. In contrast, Simon et al. conveyed in a case study of one high school mathematics teacher in Canada that standardized grading policy often conflicted with professional judgment and had a significant influence on determining students’ final grades. This reflects the impact of policy in that country, an important contextual influence 23.

Some researchers have developed scales to judge teachers’ beliefs and attitudes about grading, including items that load on importance, usefulness, exertion, aptitude, rating habits, and perceived self-efficiency of the grading process. These studies have validated the survey and dialogue findings about teachers’ beliefs in using both reasoning and non-reasoning factors in grading 23, 28.

2.1. Problem of Traditional Grading Practices

Many surveys show that teachers can offer more different clarifications to why a student would receive a grade other than content knowledge or performance on a learning standard 29. There is some example of problems such as teachers who punish a pupil for missing tasks, learners who try to expand their grade by adding additional points unrelated to the real assignment of learning, teachers who want a student to do poorly or fail as a consequence for their performances, and teachers who try to change their classroom behavior through grades. Applying the traditional 100-point grading scale, grades are often inflated or deflated by teachers who deliver points for non-academic extra credit prospects, assignment, or performance.

2.2. Teachers’ Perceptions of Grading and Grading Challenges

Brookhart et al, exclaimed on his research that systematic investigations of teachers’ grading challenges and perceptions about grading began to be circulated in the 1980s 23 and were précised in Brookhart’s review of 19 experiential studies of teachers grading practices, challenges, opinions, and beliefs. On the basis of study, he maintained five themes 30. First, teachers’ use measures of accomplishment, mainly tests, second, teachers believe it is imperative to grade fairly. Views of impartiality included using multiple sources of information, combining effort, and making it clear to students what is measured and how they will be graded.

This advocate’s teachers consider school achievement to include the assignment students do in school, not just the absolute outcome. Third, in secondary teachers included non-cognitive factors in grades, including ability, effort, improvement, completion of work, and, to a small extent, other student behaviors. Fourth, grading practices are not trustworthy across teachers, either with respect to persistence or the extent to which non-cognitive factors are considered, reflecting differences in teachers’ philosophies and tenets.

Brookhart’s review revealed an upswing in interest in investigating grading challenges during this period, in which performance-based and assortment classroom valuation was emphasized and reports of the unreliability of teachers’ subjective judgments about student work also increased 30. The findings were in accord with policymakers’ increasing suspicion of teachers’ verdicts about student attainment.

2.3. Teacher Perceptions on the Letter Grading System

Compared to the number of studies concerning teachers’ grading performs, comparatively few studies focus right sensory activity constructs like significance, connotation, worth, attitudes, and philosophies. This focuses on each clarification of the construct (what grading means) and also the insinuations and consequences of grading (the impact it's on students). Educationists used this abstract framework to research teachers’ comments regarding their grading and also the extent to that values and consequences were thought of 31.

The results showed that teachers understood sensible grades as an award for accomplished work, supported each strength and excellence, student angle toward attainment as reflected by exercise completion, and development in learning. Teachers indicated the wish for disposition and exactness, not simply accomplishment, oral communication that grades are cheap if they're down for lack of effort or participation, which grading necessities to be strict for top achievers. Teachers additionally thought of consequences of grading judgments for students’ future success and feelings of competency. Justice in a personal sense could be a theme in various studies of teacher perceptions of grading systems 23.

2.4. Letter Grading System as a Communication Tool for Stakeholders

Swan, Guskey, and Jung coined that parents, teachers, and students favored LGS over traditional report cards, with teachers in view of accepting LGS having the most favorable attitudes 32. LGS reported that it took longer to record the detailed information, even it is including consistency and aptitude of students. Thus, it yielded higher-quality information and share to responsive personals. A previous informal report by Guskey found, however, that many students and their parents endeavored to interpret almost all labels (e.g., below basic, basic, proficient, advanced) in terms of letter grading 33. It may be that a decade of growing familiarity with LGS has changed perceptions of the connotation and utility of Letter Grading System.

In fact, grading typically represent a mixture of multiple factors that teacher’s value, professional responsibilities, positive attitudes and understanding 23. Teachers identify the important role of effort in achievement, inspirations to the students and recurrent consequences and challenges of LGS 23, 31, 34. Teachers distinguish educational enablers, like exertion, capacity, enhancement, work habits, attention, and involvement, which they endorse as pertinent to grading, from other learner characteristics like gender, socioeconomic prestige, or personality, entering behaviors, philosophical and political ideologies which they do not endorse as relevant to grading 35.

2.5. Diverse Perspectives of Students and Stakeholders’ on LGS

Simon & Schuster exclaimed varies perspectives about LGS. They posited that “Most kids never talk about LGS, but a lot of the time bad grades make them feel dumb, backwardness and pot of shame and almost all the time it’s not true 36. And good grades make other kids think they’re better, intelligent and that’s not true either. And then all the kids and their parents start contending and comparing. In every moment, they saw their friends as a competitors. The smart kids feel smarter and get all stuck-up, and the regular kids feel stupid and like there’s no way to catch up. And the people who are supposed to help kids, the parents and the teachers, they don’t. Almost all preparing responsibility should bear by themselves. They just add more pressure and keep making up more and more tests 36. It is customary of students and their parents perceptions about the grades because they cannot get satisfactory grading in any kinds of assessments. Cultures, language, family background, parents’ jobs and education, level of entering behaviors, peers and motivational factors are inspired to emerge contradictory opinion about the LGS in student’s life of children.

3. Conceptual Framework

Conceptual Framework is described on perceptions of teachers on the subject of Letter Grading System qualitatively which has been assigned in the evaluation process in Nepal since 2016. After the studied of many literatures, it is formulated as guiding principles of post-modernism was applied in research. The research is especially based on the Social theory of constructivist developed by Lev Vygotsky.

Similarly, themes of teachers’ perceptions and their insights would not be co-related with one other. However, teachers are implemented factors and students are faced factors in classroom. Each teachers’ experiences and attitudes may not be same and perceptions will be entirely differentiated about the LGS. Because of student’s cultural backgrounds and individual teacher insights may not be equivalent with understanding about it. Mentioning the above world view and literature reviews, a synthesized set of two essential issues for grading in a teachers perception was developed on conceptual framework. Such as to explore the meaning, understanding, importance, values, experiences and implication of LGS through the perception of teachers, and to identify the challenging factors of it.

4. Methodology

The purpose of the phenomenological study has explored how teachers’ experience and understand about the LGS. It was based on phenomenological design and analyzing it on narrative or descriptive methods. Through purposive sampling strategies with constructing semi-structured in-depth interview protocol tool is employed. Creswell explains that in qualitative research, the investigator selects or ascertains the sites or participants purposefully that assistances the investigator to understand the research problem in the best way 37. Participants were selected only on the Secondary schools’ teachers who were regularly activated in teaching learning activities and currently involved in evaluation system of Schools in Nepal. In-depth Interview was conducted on face to face modes to the participants and taking videos, note keeping, build up memos if possible for data transcription and validation. And those who were unable to contact directly in school, they would be taken response through the gmails from the google form.

While considering a population for this research, Boyd suggests that research saturation can typically be attained with 2 to 10 participants 38. Similarly, Creswell recommends a phenomenological study involve “long interviews with up to 10 people” 39. It is cleared that, for this research, I choose 3 participants those who were acting as a teaching professions in Secondary School in Vyas Municipality of Damauli, Tanahun.

Researchers should be considered ethical perspectives while collecting data by taking informed consent, risk of potentiality and confidentiality through the participants. ‘Ethics begins and ends with you, the researcher’ 40. However, researchers are value laden in qualitative research. Participants were asked to attend an interview scheduled for approximately 45-60 minutes. Interviewing was a mostly effective procedure for collecting data about the lived experience of participants 41. Although I had made open-ended interview questions with prompts to guide the experience, exact phrasing and order continued flexible to best navigate the interactive experience with each respondent 42. It was especially investigated on qualitative research methodology. It was helped to conduct research steered to the destination and drawing conclusions within boundary of objectives and research questions as standards beyond the pandemic situation of Coronavirus of COVID-19.

5. Results

To explore by studying the underpinnings of how teachers experience and understand the LGS and its challenges. The results are a culmination of the teachers’ voices and share a deep perspective on their lived experiences and understanding. Cautious analysis of the interview transcriptions permitted me to identify word and thought patterns which set the stage for later theme emersion 43. After reading each transcription so many times, I entered into phenomenological reduction by defining units of meaning. This was accomplished by noticing patterns in the way teacher participants described face experiencing and understanding of LGS. I then grouped the meanings to provision the formation and illustration of the themes clearly.

5.1. Summary of Participants

Consciously, I only included participants who: (a) had completed five or more consecutive years of experiences at the Secondary School teacher where they were currently been activated; (b) were involved in teachers training center as a trainee and also take part as a subject expert, play a role of superintendent in SEE in different exam centered in Vyas Municipality. (c) Were involved in scrutinize of answer sheets of SEE regularly per year. They had experienced the LGS, at maximum, So, they have faced the interview on the clustered of meaning, importance, merits and demerits, motivational issues on the teacher, and lived challenges in the classroom about the LGS and in examination hall’s experience as usual.

The sample of 2 males and 1 female ranging in experiences from 5 to 15 years. They showed to be a blend of both demographics and teacher experience. One of the participants identified with being Janajati and each one identified with being Chhetri and Brahmin. None of the participants shared the same academic major which provided for diverse perspectives, however, all of them are Secondary Level, permanent School teachers. The selected frequency data and participant demographics are depicted as below.

5.2. Participant Narratives

The qualitative investigation allowed me the opportunity to engage with all the involved teachers as I inquired about the phenomenon surrounding how they experienced and understood the letter grading. I exposed teachers who could speak to their lived experiences with the LGS and its challenges. The following descriptions were projected to help the 3 readers feel the essence of their stories. One of the interview probes questions I asked the teachers was what advice they would provide about letter grading as they were reflective understood. When all participants’ responses were culminated and described clearly and were offered as a representation of their voice.

Sonam Gurung was a forty-one-year-old Janajati male serving fifteen years’ experience in Government schools’ of a permanent teacher. He was a senior teacher had long years of experience teacher and academician. His involvement was broaden includes among students, teachers government, and academic organizations. Now, he was going to identify first as meaning about LGS. He claimed that letter grading is assigning the level of students according to their performance associated with certain courses. Moreover, he understood that it is a system of evaluation that evaluates the student’s achievement on the basis of overall performance throughout the educational year. This notion explained about LGS, which was developed for the measurement of the overall achievement of students’ performance.

Letter grading has unique opinions and beliefs in the mind of teachers, students, and their parents. It is because LGS has just launched five years ago. It is not impressed by the stakeholders through their features. Even though, its merits and demerits have not illuminated in our society yet clearly. However, he had explicated some positive points in this way.

According to him, letter grading is a system that is able to remove the anxiety of exams in students. Most of the students have got a chance to enroll in class eleven according to their level of performance.

As implicit issues of LGS, it was necessary to standardize its values and norms for maintaining its qualities of education. The assigning system had preferred definite norms and values in our school evaluation system for maintained meritocracy too. In order to consider the norms and values of letter grading, he posits the three points as under.

He pointed out his understanding was (i) Students have got their performance level and able to choose their field to study in the future. (ii) It is a liberal policy of evaluation and upgrading the students. (iii) The system is able to reduce the dropout rate in school education especially at the basic level.

Teaching Profession has been itself a challenging job in the context of Nepal. Most of the academic activities and programs were handled by the teacher themselves in school. In order to apply letter grading by the evaluation of students in the school level, teachers’ faced many problems in regard to bearing accountability of measuring learner’s achievement of each preferred subject. According to him, in this challenge, the teacher should have preferred the following criteria.

The selection criteria are taken as the basis for the grading of the students. Such as home assignment, classroom activities, participants in project work, group work, marks obtained in the monthly exam and terminal exams, discipline and attendance record, etc. Clearly, it is applied and established in school evaluation formally. And some are either related to rating or some are not.

It means that in school evaluation, a lot of non-standardized tools may be used as required. These non-standardized tools like project work, field study, self-evaluation, group work, etc. helped students to learn subject matter as precisely with examples. However, in the terminal exam, do not use non-testing devices in school evaluation, only written and practical tests are taken for securing marks in numerals and convert it into a letter grading for evaluation.

Conversely, he experienced that there are many faults while applying it in school evaluation. For instance, for grades 9 and 10, the mark obtained in the SEE Board Exam, only terminal exams are included in the grading system which is inappropriate and irrelevance in the reflection of grading behaviors.

However, the grading system has lots of significance and needs in our country. Because it reduced the tension of learners and their parents too. Moreover, it can change the feeling of the hastiness of the procedure of examination and reduction of disadvantages of the traditional system of evaluation. In order to the context of these issues, Mr. Gurung added the two points.

First, it reduces the dropout rate in school level education and to get rid of the anxiety of the exam. Secondly, it makes the evaluation system transparent and liberal as they wish in stands of code of examination.

While studying deeply about the LGS, It has lots of challenges that was distinguishing in classroom application by the teacher. Through the lens of the interviewee, he evoked some challenges. Such as

Over workload of the teacher cause difficulty in implementing the grading system. And next, large class size, for example, 40 students in every 5 classes becomes 200 students, and maintaining the criterion grading system for 200 students weekly or monthly is quite difficult. In addition, the lack of proper meaning of the grading system in teachers is the burning challenged for applying it in school. Furthermore, there are some limitations of LGS such as implementation level/techniques in school is not strong by the lack of human resources and initiative facilities and lack of a way for auditing of the teacher’s work on grading system in Nepal.

It is observed that the above-mentioned limitations decrease the quality of education at present and in the coming days. It should have eradicated in time through the authoritative officers and concerned office of education by the local level or from the federal level of government. These drawbacks might be solved by providing teacher training and allocating budget on how much was such a program required. For the remedies of above-stipulated problems, the following non-testing devices must be used and it may help to improve the evaluation system.

He said on these issues, general observation, inspection, interview, and cumulative record were used as a non-testing device. But the questionnaire and rating scale also should include in the grading system.

Letter grading system has created an important cabalistic function for motivating and sometimes demotivating to the teachers and students too. According to Mr. Gurung, he dealt out here some motivating points aptly.

The first one is, the teacher free from the pressure to pass or fail to the students on the basis of numerical marks. And secondly, the overall achievement of the students is measured, so exam-oriented teaching is reduced spontaneously.

It steered that most of the students may not wait for the suggestion and direct help from the teachers. It meant that the students are free from learning and doing activities depending on their ability and pace without directing their teachers. Furthermore, it reduced slowly the teacher-centered pedagogy in the classroom.

Rojina Lamsal was a thirty-six-year-old Bramin female serving ten years’ experience in Government schools’ of a permanent teacher. While our interview conversation starts on the major issues one by one, at first, she begun to give the meaning and concepts of LGS in her perception.

The aggregate score divided by the total number of credits. They include interval of raw score, grade point, and grade point average. It’s a departure from the traditional marking system. In her opinion, it was introduced in Nepal to improve the learning outcomes. It’s a deviation from a single score system. It measures students in range. It is less discouraging to students.

Again, she explained the beliefs and opinions of LGS which is implementing in the evaluation system of the school evaluation procedure. She expresses a positive response to this system.

Gradually students will understand a higher GPA means something for them in and the present confusion will be cleared. Teachers can educate incessantly what it means. Furthermore, she explain about the norms and values of LGS. In her experienced, the letter grading system in Nepal uses the score interval like 90 to 100 A+ to reduce the error of measurement, which sounds more realistic.

She responded to the asking questions of issues of responsibilities of the teacher while applying LGS in School evaluation.

She told that teachers have to see examination and evaluation of students in a new light. They need to understand the fallacy of the 101 point scale. This system is now implemented in SEE and it should be implemented in the internal examinations of school.

The teacher is an accountable personality. She felt a lot of experience while conducting the SEE examination and School terminal exam per year. When I asked, what types of experienced have you faced in school examination? She gave the answer in a short way.

The first challenge I have faced as a teacher is a misunderstanding on the side of guardians as they are used to the traditional system of marking. Secondly, we are using a similar evaluation system for a new marking system, which is incongruent.

Again, I raised a question about the need and importance of LGS in the present context of Nepalese School, she illustrated with humbly as here.

A very important thing about LGS so far as I understand is it doesn’t let any students fail, which means it opens doors to students for further courses in his career. Secondly, it has reduced the commercialization of education ill-practiced by private boarding schools. Thirdly, we are trying to follow what is in practice in the world.

However, LGS has many challenges while implementing it in school evaluation in the Nepalese context since 2016. I heartily request her to describe the major challenges of LGS. She described very frankly.

One major challenge of LGS is the old evaluation model which we are using for the new marking system. Another challenge is the misunderstanding among parents, teachers, and students about this system. Students really have misconception now that they don’t have to work hard now. Even parents and students seem to have less enthusiastic about children’s better education.

Frankly speaking, LGS has a lot of drawbacks. It can be removed in time for the betterment of improving the evaluation system. If the evaluation system has a strong and best one, the quality of education might have improved gradually. So, I raised other issues such as limitations of LGS. She evoked clearly.

We need to change the exam system, which is largely based upon traditional rot-learning. Project-based evaluation should be introduced instead. Classroom activities and our approach to teaching-learning should be changed in parallel.

When I put her another question and probing questions like what types of non-testing devices used in our evaluation system in Nepal? If not why? Interestingly, she was laughing and told about such issues which is found rarely implementation of other devices of evaluation in school at present.

They (Government) have not been in use significantly in most schools in Nepal. CAS (Continuous Assessment System) is in practice but it is not managed properly and most teachers and school administrators are not aware of this system.

At last, we are discussing that LGS has a lot of motivating factors for showing teachers' performances. Somewhat have demotivating factors also in it. I asked her, how LGS motivate/demotivate the teacher’s performance? She told me about it very confidently in noted ways.

It definitely motivates teachers as they understand the meaning and purpose of this system. At present, we have been applying a new system with the old model, which needs to be changed. As it is used properly the teachers too will have less pressure caused by fallacy led by wrong evaluation.

It showed that this newly established system should be revised as a form of a new one. Because it has so long nine categorical scales that do not measure the overall capabilities of students practically. It referred to the students for class eleven as an above insufficient level of grading 'D'. Thus, it should be revised as fast as possible by NEB.

Resham Thapa was a thirty-two-year-old Chhetri kindred male serving seven years’ experience in institutional school as teacher in Vyas Municipality of Tanahun. I have explained the transcribed form of interview protocol of participants. He articulated that letter grading evaluating system means evaluating the learners’ performance assigning the specified grades on the basis of their learning outcomes or learning, not necessarily evaluating the learners awarding grades like in the traditional mode of evaluation.

In his opinion, he explained the beliefs of the letter grading system which is a very good way of evaluation but we the stakeholders should understanding its importance accordingly. Similarly, the norms or basis of the letter grading systems are okay in the context of Nepal in his opinion. It has nine scale norms which indicate outstanding to insufficient from highest to lowest in manner. He was articulated clearly about the major responsibilities of teachers in the context of the Nepalese school evaluation system. According to him, the major responsibility of teachers is to make the learners and parents understanding well about LGS. Similarly, teachers should do appropriate management of the examination system of letter grading.

He pointed out the accountable teachers’ behaviors while applying it in school evaluation. He has found that letter grading systems is very good for the bright future of the learners. The students who used fail in SLC are the university level students today. Because of LGS, they have got the opportunity to study in higher education. Isn’t it the magic of the letter grading system? It also helps the students to minimize the desecration and humiliation of them.

The letter grading system has many more important and needs in the evaluation system. It helps to uplift the students’ success in education, to getter better opportunities in the future. It has reinforced to the student for better doing their examination, homework, assignment, project work, and practical work too. It is necessary to save the children for their demoralizing experiences.

However, it has a lot of challenges in evaluation. Not understanding its core concept and spreading the whims about it, learners' and teachers’ reluctance in learning and teaching. It has a lot of confusion such as what is the difference between 79 to 80 and 94 to 95. The difference is the same but the value scale is different from one another. How we can solve it? In LGS so many challenges have been shown in the present context of Nepal.

The letter grading system has lots of limitations but understanding it positively and its real sense and making students and parents too known about it. Students are felt that this system is ambiguous because most of the students don’t understand the purpose of letter grading system. Most of the students unable to recognize the norms and values of it. In addition, in the context of the implication of evaluation tools, it is known as testing devices. The testing devices are prevalent in the context of Nepal. As discussed herein last, LGS has taken as the motivation elements of teachers because of its more benefits and easy to made its formatting result sheets. It should motivate the teacher while applying it in the school level evaluation system in Nepal for the quality improvement of education.

6. Discussions

It is the study of teachers’ perception of LGS and its challenges in the context of the Vyas Municipality of Tanahun. Its main objectives are to explore the teachers’ perception of the letter grading system and its challenges for implementation that have been observed in schools’ evaluation system of Nepal. Letter Grading System has just been implemented by our government since 2015 in Nepal without any proper preparation, dissemination, and diffusion program in education sectors previously. Therefore, it results several problems at the time of its implementation. However, it contents many advantages as such evaluation system encourages to the intelligent and weak students to compete positively with entire effort and strength in the classroom. At the same time it supports to reduce the frustration and humiliation of students and their parents too.

Letter Grading System spins around the idea that information or knowledge is formed and can continuously be developed based on teachers’ experiences and understanding in different contexts as the same phenomenon 44 therefore, constructivism is the theoretical framework through which this study is set. The constructivist believes “that different people may construct meaning in different ways, even in relation to the same phenomenon” 45. For the base of this issues, participants give the meaning and concept of LGS in this ways.

The aggregate score divided by the total number of credits. They include interval of raw score, grade point, and grade point average. It’s a departure from the traditional marking system. In her opinion, it was introduced in Nepal to improve the learning outcomes. It’s a deviation from a single score system. It measures students in range. It is less discouraging to students.

Being in the constructivist approach, knowledge is designed in many ways and is not a perpetual quality of a person; standards-based letter grading practices permit students to see their learning and to work with those around them to endure learning. The LGS is related to encourage factors which help to improve learning outcomes. It motivates teachers and students both in regard to constructive competitions in classroom activities.

It was also obvious in the significant findings that teachers’ perceptions of whether or not items, such as homework assignment, in-class work, assessments, extra credit, project work, and standards/learning targets, are included in the letter grading system or the teachers’ perceptions of the item with the most impact on their grading levels, which further establishes the thought that grading systems may impact students’ achievement levels in the practical setting, and it has faced recognizing challenge in the mind of students and their parents in school as it was established in the theoretical sense. However, such types of tools are not mentioned for terminal evaluation of students in schools. One participant has asserted that:

They (Government) have not been in use significantly in most schools in Nepal. CAS (Continuous Assessment System) is in practice but it is not managed properly and most teachers and school administrators are not aware of this system.

However, the ideas of Cross & Frary approve that students were challenged about inference and conceptions of their teachers' applicability of items 46. When endeavoring to interpret their grading by teachers’, students can become frustrated and confused by unreliable measures 47 and although this study did not resolve completely to measure students’ frustration or confusion levels, their inconsistent responses to the letter grading and their lack of cohesive perceptions of the schools grading system. Instead of these challenges, expects that the teachers’ grading experiences, understanding, and practices could lead to solve this type of challenges according to the aims of the evaluation system of Nepal.

Based on the mixed responses given by teachers of their perceptions of the grading systems, the researcher came to the conclusion that a variety of grading categorical scales have converged upon one another in regard to their performance level of subject matter. Either they are satisfied or not by achieving their potentialities of a certain level of degree.

Even though the purpose of a standardized letter grading system is to provide a meaningful, reliable, valid, and consistent picture of students learning achievement, this type of product will be lacking in effectiveness until students, parents, and all stakeholders have a clear understanding about the LGS. One finding of this study was significantly impactful on students’ performance and behavior-changing levels. Which was the teachers’ perception of understanding what their grading means.

The all of students who enter our secondary school program come from our newly established basic level classrooms where they do merely receive some grades on their terminal work. All of the students get descriptive feedback from teachers and are inspired to self-assess their growth, but their work is not marked in any kind of ranking system or not through using the other devices of evaluation too. All of the respondent teachers put their idea about the uses of non-testing devices such as project work, classroom assignment, homework, group work, practical work etc. in our schools. Even though, it is essential to apply for evaluation. But not so till now. According to them, however, these types of tools have not been used due to lack of provision as an assessment in the school level of the evaluation system of Nepal. Nonetheless, these students naturally show a high level of curiosity in their learning and are ambitious largely by internal incentives to increase their knowledge and understanding spontaneously.

As an investigator, I ask the teacher, does the LGS motivate the teacher for academic development in schools’ evaluation system? A respondent replies interestingly that illustrating as:

LGS also motivates the teachers for their academic activities such as making a grade sheet using computer software, announced the students grading by instant providing feedback, ensuring the learning activities of students in the classroom, and inspired the students as well as with their parents.

The main educational purpose of grading is to measure student achievement of learning in a particular curriculum of certain classes 48. It helps to compare the performance of students, teachers' output, and the school’s status. The grading system is most often used as a procedure of contrast such as past vs. present, effort vs. performance, student vs. student, student vs. standard, and achievement vs. teachers 49. It is also used to compare the performance of teachers, schools, and districts too.

Similarly, letter grading assists as important tools in managerial decisions regarding subject selection, graduation, maintenance, and program entrance 48 and its major role is to assess the learners, and teachers' competencies of the knowledge, skills, and confidence. However, grading requires either mean scores or abstracting a great deal of evidence into a single symbol such as C, D, etc. and this is an unsuccessful way to communicate student learning 50, 51. When grading is introduced to the students, they tend to lose focus on their interest in learning but they are highly interested to promote to the next class without a complete understanding of the referred course contents 6. One participants articulated as:

However, it has a lot of challenges in evaluation. Not understanding its core concept and spreading the whims about it, learners' and teachers’ reluctance in learning and teaching. It has a lot of confusion such as what is the difference between 79 to 80 and 94 to 95. The difference is the same but the value scale is different from one another. How we can solve it? In LGS so many challenges have been shown in the present context of Nepal.

Moreover, LGS has created some ambiguous challenges and circumstances in the ways of evaluation such as students percepts moreover teachers activities is biased, injustice in providing marks, interval between two scale values is unsatisfactory, internal competencies of learners are not accumulated in average scoring of GPA which are unacceptable easily, ranking has been done that create humiliations and creates lacks of trustworthiness in evaluation.

But in contrary, LGS has lots of benefit to implement it in school evaluation. When I triangulate the participant’s concept to the literature, and educationist, there are confirming that this issues is trusted forever, that is:

I have found that LGS is very good for the bright future of the learners. The students who used fail in SLC are the university level students today. Because of LGS, they have got the opportunity to study in higher education. Isn’t it the magic of the letter grading system? It also helps the students to minimize the desecration and humiliation of them.

Therefore, it is very interesting that LGS has more advantages, through which lots of student have achieved different types of opportunity for further study and job placement. But, it is consider not forgotten that it should be revised, reduced its circumstances and made implacable without bias for practicing it in evaluation for coming days.

7. Conclusion

The LGS has established a rating and progressive ranking scale of performances of students by getting their scores in the final evaluation of the SEE board exam and other terminal exams of School. It is found that teachers haven’t cleared yet about the concept and its applicability procedure smoothly. There are some obstacles or challenges about LGS via concept and importance to its implement, norms and values of LGS, accountability of teachers and administrators, usability and satisfactory of learners and others. Because it is identified that teachers cannot hold entirely its responsibilities without providing innovative knowledge of grading through the orientation program by the National Education Board or other institutions.

There are different nine categorical progressive scales that are labeled at outstanding to insufficient at present. Still it needs to be reformed for improvement of qualitative evaluation in education. According to the experiences of respondents, nowadays, most of the students have perceived that LGS is a way of liberal promoting policies as serving in-school evaluation by taking any grades. That is why most students cannot achieve high grades through such scales as suffering from antagonistic views of LGS. They do not inspire either explicitly or implicitly and do not able to develop potential learnability throughout the orientation by teachers to them. So, the teacher itself as seen as a motivating factor by implementing the LGS appropriately, and solved each problem of learners through the LGS. Teachers recognize it in the mind of students as a ‘charismatic evaluation tool’ by achieving higher competency among the peers in the field of education by the bits of help of meritocracy of LGS.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank lecturers, facilitators, and lots of colleagues at the Centre of Social Science and Education Studies at the Nepal Open University, who has helped me to develop these materials over a number of months. In particular, I should mention Dr. Jiban Khadka (Head of department of Social Science and Education, NOU), Dr. Chandra Lakshamba, Dr. Jeevan Khanal and Ma’am Yashoda Chaulagain, who helped me unravel some of the finer points of academic language and explicit writing with providing many ideas, materials and guidance. Similarly, I would like to thanks, those who take part my in-depth interview as participants and my dear friend Lecturer Mr. Sagar Paudel who has corrected languages and other structures of writings as well. Likewise, I give thanks heartily, The Mayor of Vyas Municipality, Mr. Baikuntha Neupane, who always inspire me to do a research activities in campus forever to getting and providing quality education.

My family has provided me with invaluable support, encouraged me for working during the development of this academic writing. Final thanks to all those who provided courteous guidance and for helping me keep the whole subject in perspective.

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Bharat Kafle. Teachers’ Perception of Letter Grading System and Its Challenges a Qualitative Study in Vyas Municipality of Tanahun. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 8, No. 9, 2020, pp 622-632. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/8/9/3
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Kafle, Bharat. "Teachers’ Perception of Letter Grading System and Its Challenges a Qualitative Study in Vyas Municipality of Tanahun." American Journal of Educational Research 8.9 (2020): 622-632.
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Kafle, B. (2020). Teachers’ Perception of Letter Grading System and Its Challenges a Qualitative Study in Vyas Municipality of Tanahun. American Journal of Educational Research, 8(9), 622-632.
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Kafle, Bharat. "Teachers’ Perception of Letter Grading System and Its Challenges a Qualitative Study in Vyas Municipality of Tanahun." American Journal of Educational Research 8, no. 9 (2020): 622-632.
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[1]  T. M. Haladyna, S. M. Downing, and M. C. Rodriguez, “A Review of Multiple-Choice Item-Writing Guidelines for Classroom Assessment,” Appl. Meas. Educ., vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 309-333, 2002.
In article      View Article
 
[2]  F. Elikai and P. W. Schuhmann, “An examination of the impact of grading policies on students’achievement,” Issues Account. Educ., vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 677-693, 2010.
In article      View Article
 
[3]  J. Schneider and E. Hutt, “Making the grade: a history of the A-F marking scheme,” J. Curric. Stud., vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 201-224, 2014.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Thomas R. Guskey & Robert Thomas, “Perception of Teachers’ about Grading,” J. Curric. Stud., vol. 4, no. 7, p. 2, 2001.
In article      
 
[5]  CERID, “A Narrative Report of Proceeding of the National Seminar on Letter Grading System: Implication and its Impacts in Higher Education,” vol. 2016, no. 22 February, 2016.
In article      
 
[6]  Kohn, “A History of Grading,” J. Curric. Stud., vol. 3, no. 6, 1999.
In article      
 
[7]  J. Malouff, “Bias in Grading,” Coll. Teach., vol. 56, no. 3, pp. 191-192, 2008.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  A. KOHN, “The Case Against Grades,” Educ. Leadersh. Educ. Dig., no. January, pp. 8-16, 2012.
In article      
 
[9]  J. Schinske and K. Tanner, “Feature Approaches to Biology Teaching and Learning Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently ),” CBE-Life Sci. Educ., vol. 13, pp. 159-166, 2014.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[10]  M. P. Wagle, “New SLC grading system reflects students’ capability better,” Kathmandupost.com, 2016.
In article      
 
[11]  R. Sawyer, “Beyond Correlations: Usefulness of High School GPA and Test Scores in Making College Admissions Decisions,” Appl. Meas. Educ., vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 89-112, 2013.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  A. Martinez, “Parent Involvement and Its Effects on Student,” Califonia State Univ. Stanislaus, no. May, 2015.
In article      
 
[13]  CERID, “School Effectiveness in Nepal: A Synthesis of Indicators,” no. July, 2002.
In article      
 
[14]  Malouff, “Effects of Grading on Student Learning and Alternative Assessment Strategies,” J. Curric. Stud., 2008.
In article      
 
[15]  R. M. Krawczyk, “Effects of Grading on Student Learning and Alternative Assessment Strategies,” Eff. Grading Student Learn. Altern. Assess. Strateg. p. 45, 2017.
In article      
 
[16]  C. Reddy, “Grading System in Education: Advantages and Disadvantages,” Journal of Education and Educational Development, p. 3, 2016.
In article      
 
[17]  T. Isaacs, Assessment in Education in England, vol. 9, no. 1. 2012.
In article      
 
[18]  D. M. Yesbeck, “Grading practices: Teachers’ considerations of academic and non-academic factors,” ProQuest Diss. Theses, pp. 31-164, 2011.
In article      
 
[19]  J. S. Turner, “The relationship between secondary school teacher perception of student motivation and the effects of teacher professional development on student motivation.” vol. 68, no. 10-A, p. 4248, 2008.
In article      
 
[20]  T. R. Guskey and L. J. Link, “Exploring the factors teachers consider in determining students’ grades,” Assess. Educ. Princ. Policy Pract., vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 303-320, 2019.
In article      View Article
 
[21]  T. R. G. and S. M. Brookhart, “What We Know about Grading,” in The Science News-Letter, vol. 11, no. 306, 2019, p. 115.
In article      View Article
 
[22]  R. Simon, M., Tierney, R. D., Forgette-Giroux, R., Charland, J., Noonan, B., & Duncan, “A secondary school teacher’s description of the process of determining report card grades,” McGill J. Educ., vol. 45, pp. 535-554, 2010.
In article      View Article
 
[23]  S. M. Brookhart et al., “A Century of Grading Research: Meaning and Value in the Most Common Educational Measure,” Rev. Educ. Res., vol. 86, no. 4, pp. 803-848, 2016.
In article      View Article
 
[24]  Starch, “Reliability of grading high school work in english, maths ad science,” J. Educ. Educ. Dev., vol. 21, no. 3, 1913.
In article      View Article
 
[25]  D. Starch, “Can the variability of marks be reduced?,” Sch. Soc., vol. 2, pp. 242-243, 1915.
In article      
 
[26]  G. of N. Ministry of Education, LGS Nerdeshika First amendment 2073.12. Kathmandu, 2016, pp. 1-10.
In article      
 
[27]  K. B. Cox, “Putting Classroom Grading on the Table: A Reform in Progress,” Am. Second. Educ., vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 67-87, 2011.
In article      
 
[28]  K. O. Connor, “Part 1: How to Grade for Learning Presented by,” p. 156, 2009.
In article      
 
[29]  J. A. Erickson, “a_call_to_action_transforming_grading_practices Eriksion Jaffrine A.pdf,” in Principal Leadership, pp. 42-46.
In article      
 
[30]  S. M. Brookhart, “Teachers’ Grading: Practice and Theory,” Appl. Meas. Educ., vol. 7, no. 2009, pp. 279-301, 1994.
In article      View Article
 
[31]  Youyi Sun and Liying Cheng, “Teachers’ grading practices: Meaning and Values assigned,” Assess. Educ. Princ. Policy Pract., vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 326-343, 2014.
In article      View Article
 
[32]  L. A. (2014) Swan, G. M., Guskey, T. R., & Jung, “Parents’ and Teachers’ perception of Standards-based and Traditional Report Cards.,” Educ. Assessment, Eval. Account. vol. 26, pp. 289-299, 2014.
In article      View Article
 
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