How do ungraded assignments affect a student’s class grade?

How can an assignment graded higher than the class grade actually lower the average?

On its face, it may seem illogical that an ungraded assignment could alter a student’s average in a class. And in fact, if only 1 assignment type is used, this likely won’t happen.

However this can appear if multiple assignment types (weighting) are used.

Suppose a math teacher had created just two weighting categories as follows:

  • Homework: 25%
  • Tests: 75%

The teacher has given 4 homework assignments by mid-term. Lets suppose Susan has aced every homework assignment, maintaining a 100% average to this point. The gradesheet might look something like this:

Notice the weights of each assignment (under the Due dates). Halfway through the quarter, the teacher enters the grades for the Mid-term test. Susan gets just 60% on her midterm. Since the midterm Assignment Type category is worth so much, her overall average drops to 70%:

That midterm is really worth a lot. The following week, the teacher adds in one Homework assignment, without grading it. Susan’s grade actually drops to a 68.4%: 

But why? It’s because the weight of each graded Homework assignment has just dropped, relative to the Tests category. Notice each assignment’s weight in the class has dropped from 6.25% to 5%. We don’t know what Susan will get on that next homework assignment, but based on graded assignments thus far, with weighting factored in, this is her true current grade. 

Gradelink’s approach is to project, as accurately as possible, the student’s final average grade in the class, based on performance thus far. Though there are other approaches to computing the running average, Gradelink has chosen a conservative method, so as to encourage student improvement and balance. If we did not factor ungraded assignments into the weighting, it would be easy for a student to go through a term getting high grades in lowly weighted categories, and not bother to study for the final exam, even though it will have the most impact. Instead, Gradelink emphasizes the importance of those categories with high weight, so as to minimize surprises at report card time. 

Also, while this was an extreme example, it’s usually a good idea not to weight any one category too heavily. We suggest 35%-40% as the most any single Assignment Type should probably carry. Again, Gradelink’s approach for Class Grade is to convey what the student has gotten from  the class as whole, not just one category.