Please Stop Using Weighted Grades

This is just me screaming into the void. You can totally choose to ignore this if you want.

Please stop using them. Your students will thank you.

Since I’ve entered college, this has been something of a pet peeve of mine. I understand why teachers do it; it’s a very useful tool for structuring how much a particular group of homework, quizzes, or tests affects grades. It’s really very predictable when you calculate grades at the end of the semester.

But when you’re checking grades over the course of the year, weighted grades can be very frustrating for a student, because new grades added to a weighted average system can’t affect grades across assignment groups. For example, let’s say that I have an average of 75% on exams, and an average of 95% on assignments; let’s also assume that these sections are weighted equally. Even though I have an 85% in the class, getting a 90% on an assignment will bring my grade down. This goes against all my intuition about the way that grades are suppose to work; even though I understand why it happens, it still adds unnecessary stress for me.

What do I propose instead? Figure out how much you want assignments to count as opposed to tests, and distribute points accordingly. It has the same effect as weighted grading, except that it conforms to student intuition about grades more closely. Yes, this is a very small stressor. Yes, this is entirely an artefact of instant feedback on grades, which can hardly be representative of final grades anyway. But please don’t use weighted grades. It makes all our lives that much easier.