Dr. Alex J. Bowers | Urban Education Leaders Program | Organization and Leadership

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Urban Education Leaders Program

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Dr. Alex  Bowers

Dr. Alex Bowers

Explores What Grades Assigned by Teachers Really Measure

Dr. Alex J. Bowers, Associate Professor of Education Leadership in the Organization and Leadership Department, collaborates with a team of researchers from University of Kentucky, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Otago's College of Education, and UC Davis School of Education to produce a groundbreaking study in the reliability of grades assigned by teachers. Dr. Bowers and the coauthors looked at 100 years of research on grades in schools. 

Summary of A Century of Grading Research: Meaning and Value in the Most Common Educational Measure

Historically, across the research on teacher grading and marking practices, in comparison to standardized test scores, teacher assigned grades have been maligned by researchers and psychometricians as subjective and unreliable measures of student academic achievement, often referred to as “hodgepodge” or “kitchen sink” grading practices. However, when teachers are asked what they assign grades for, they continuously report that they assign grades based on student academic knowledge and achievement, but also for student persistence, behavior, participation, and effort. In comparison to standardized test scores, for which researchers have struggled to find a link between scores and overall student schooling outcomes, grades are one of the strongest predictors of positive student outcomes, such as successfully transitioning from middle school to high school, graduating from high school, college-going and college graduation. Thus, grades are a useful assessment in education, but what exactly do they measure and is it reliable?

To download the article click here.

To access the article as published in the Review of Educational Research journal click here.



Brookhart, S. M., Guskey, T. R., Bowers, A. J., McMillan, J. H., Smith, J. K., Smith, L. F., Stevens, M.T., Welsh, M.E. (2016). A Century of Grading Research: Meaning and Value in the Most Common Educational Measure. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 803-848. doi: 10.3102/0034654316672069 
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