Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Mary Ellen Freeley

Second Advisor

Stephen Kotok

Third Advisor

Seokhee Cho


For over one hundred years, students’ academic progress has been reported in the form of grades. Throughout this time, many studies have examined teachers’ grading practices and have repeatedly revealed a lack of consistency in the factors teachers include when determining student grades. While grades are often interpreted as the degree to which a student has mastered curriculum standards, dozens of studies have revealed that teachers commonly include a combination of cognitive and non-cognitive factors leaving students, parents, and school officials unclear as to what grades are actually communicating. School counselors rely heavily on grades as an indication of student learning and achievement, but unreliable and inconsistent grades often falsely represent student abilities. As a result, critical decisions including, but not limited to, scholarships, financial aid, college admissions, honors classes, and remedial classes can be impacted. While many studies have examined factors teachers include in grade reporting, no studies have examined school counselors’ perceptions of grade reporting practices.

The purpose of this study was to examine school counselors’ perceptions of the primary purpose for grading and whether significant differences exist between middle school and high school counselors’ perceptions of factors teachers consider when assigning student grades. In this study, 148 middle school and high school counselors within the United States completed an online survey. T-test results indicated significant differences between the degree to which middle school and high school counselors perceived “communication” to be the primary purpose of grading. Chi square analyses revealed significant differences between middle school and high school counselors in the areas of established school-wide policies regarding uniform assessments, benchmarks for grading, and attendance as factors included in grade reporting. Frequency distributions revealed 91.2% of school counselors never received preservice or in-service training in grading and/or assessment. In addition, the majority of school counselors reported a lack of school-wide policies in the categories, methods, and/or weights teachers may or may not consider when determining students’ grades. Implications on practice, recommendations for future practice, and recommendations for future research are provided