[DWJ] Re: Congratulations, and an OT question

Anna Zofia Skarzynska ania.s at tiscali.co.uk
Tue May 9 17:38:28 EDT 2006

You want barking? Try this for size.

In Polish schools in my day (1970-1981) in both primary and secondary 
schools there were four possible marks: 2 (fail), 3, 4 and 5 (top).

This meant that the failure was pretty clear, as was success; 4 was a good 
mark, since it was quite hard to get a 5. However, 3 was the unfairest of 
marks, which had to do for the whole spectrum from near failure to really 
OK, but not quite good enough for a 4.

Consequently, a system of refining the marks developed, with pluses and 
minuses added to the numbers. So 2+ was still a fail, but not quite as bad 
as 2. I remember that 3 minus, or even 3 minus minus (!) were quite 
extensively used for a by the skin of your teeth pass. You could be 
reasonably pleased with a 3 plus, if you were either completely unprepared 
but managed to wing it, or if you weren't especially bright, but .somehow 
managed to swot up enough. 4 minus was good, 4 better, 4 plus- nearly a 5. 5 
minus was even better but not quite a 5.

As we were marked by continuous assessment (the best way, IMO), at the end 
of the year the final mark was an average of all your marks received during 
the year. We were marked for homework, oral answers in class, and the 
occasional hour-long test, usually announced in advance but sometimes 
unexpectedly sprung upon us. This is where the importance of getting a 3 
minus minus rather than a 2 can be seen- the pluses and minuses were not 
taken into account when working out the average.

If you failed one or two subjects (of up to a dozen or so) you got a chance 
to sit an exam in late summer to try and improve your mark. If you failed 
this, or if you'd failed more than 2 subjects, you repeated the year. As 
many times as it took. Believe me, the threat of that was highly motivating. 
I think the system worked very well, except for the silly grading. These 
days the marks range from 1 (fail) to 6 (outstanding) which is fairer.

I don't know what happens at university level.

And thanks for the congrats, everyone! I'm still floating on a cloud of 
elation, amazement and a touch of smugness. OK, probably more than a touch.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Burton West" <roger at firedrake.org>
To: <dwj at suberic.net>
Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2006 10:08 PM
Subject: Re: [DWJ] Re: Congratulations, and an OT question

> On Tue, May 09, 2006 at 10:02:53PM +0100, Anna Zofia Skarzynska wrote:
>>While 70% seems like not a lot to get a first, in my first undergraduate 
>>at college no essay was ever marked above 70% (as a matter of policy, I 
>>so getting even near that was an achievement. In the 2nd and 3rd year a 
>>above 70% was possible but rare.
> I've been in places like that - the official range, outside which no
> mark will _ever_ fall, is 40%-70%.
> Why claim that it's a percentage of anything, since it evidently isn't?
> Wht not just subtract 40 from each score and say "these are marks out of
> 30"? I don't know.
> R
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