Shel Silverstein was a great poet and philosopher (at least I think so!), and one of his best poems is entitled Smart:
My dad gave me one dollar bill
‘Cause I’m his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
‘Cause two is more than one!
And then i took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes-i guess he don’t know
that three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just ’cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!
And i took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
and the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!
And then i went and showed my dad,
and he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head-
Too proud of me to speak!
Why am I referencing this poem? To talk about grades and our self-reported grade form of course!
When you are comparing something, whether it is coins or grades, you have to make sure you are looking at things the right way. Just as one coin does not automatically equal another coin, one grade does not automatically equal another. When you look at a coin’s worth, you need to look at the overall equivalency of it as compared to other coins. In the same way, you need to (at times) look at grades in regards to value.
At some high schools, grades on a transcript are given in multiple format types (semester and block grades are the most common). If you have one nickel and one dime, that 1 to 1 ratio does not mean equality. You are better off looking at it as 1 nickel and a coin worth 2 nickels (the dime). In the same thought, if you have 1 semester grade of an A, and 1 year-long full credit block grade of a B, that does not mean these two grades are equal. A year-long block grade is worth 2 semester grades. As such, you would have 1 semester grade of an A, and 2 B’s in semester worth grades (1 full credit block grade converts to 2 semester .5 credit grades). So your grades would be 1 A and 2 B’s worth of semester grades. If you want, grab a nickel and a dime, and mark the nickel with an A, and the dime with a B to better grasp this issue. As my accountant father would say in math terms, you want to work from a common denominator.
So when looking at your grades (and your money), make sure you are dealing with things in an equivalent way. In addition, when you enter your grades into the self-reported grade report (and this is explained there as well along with pictures), make sure you are using the lowest common denominator. We usually only see this with semester and block grades, so if you are at a school with only one grading type, you will not need to worry about this.
I hope this was educational and not too confusing!