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Acad Med. 2012 Aug;87(8):1002-4. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31825d0b3a.

Commentary: grading: what is it good for?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.


Grading students is a necessary but challenging activity. In this commentary, the authors respond to the compelling national data about clerkship grading in U.S. medical schools presented by Alexander and colleagues. They present perspectives and cautions for how the medical education community might perceive these findings and examine how the community can act to address them. The authors discuss several aspects of normative versus criterion-based grading, reliability, and educational theory to provide context for the results reported by Alexander and colleagues. To address variability among and within schools with regard to grading systems and terminology, the authors argue for more credible and transparent interpretation of what grades mean rather than inflexible regulation of grade distributions.

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