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Standard & Custom Grading Scales in Moodle

An alternative to marking grades on an assignment with numerical values is to use Grading scales. For example, you could use a custom scale when you want students to see Excellent, Good, or Fair as a grade on an assignment as opposed to a numerical score.

Grading scales are best for record keeping purposes and other assessments you do not intend to factor into the course total in your Moodle gradebook. However, keep in mind that Moodle still assigns numerical values to each term within the scale in order to do mathematical operations (see below) and, depending on your gradebook setup, these values can impact your grade calculations in ways you may not intend. For help using custom grading scales with the Moodle gradebook, we recommend contacting the Instructional Media Lab.

Standard Grading Scales

Moodle at UMass Amherst provides the following standard grading scales:

  • Satisfactory: Not satisfactory (1 point), Satisfactory (2 points), Outstanding (3 points)
  • Received: Not Received (1 point), Received (2 points)

How Custom Grading Scales Work

While you and your students will see the values assigned by a grading scale in the Grader report, these values will function numerically in grade book calculations. Specifically, the first value in a custom scale is given the value of 1, and subsequent values are assigned the next whole number (e.g. "Very Poor" = 1, "Poor" = 2, "Fair" = 3, "Good" = 4, "Excellent" = 5).

Important! There is no zero within a custom grading scale. For example, if you are using the "Not Received, Received" scale, an assignment with a grade of "Not Received" will still be awarded one point in the Moodle gradebook.

Use caution with custom scales that replicate a standard letter scale:

While you could create a conventional letter scale using a custom scale, doing so may have unexpected effects on grade calculation because of the way each letter is assigned a numerical value (see below).

F (1), D (2), D+ (3), C- (4), C (5), C+ (6), B- (7), B (8), B+ (9), A- (10), A (11)

When using a custom scale like this instance, calculating a grade percentage will not align with the traditional letter scale. For instance, a C on the scale above would be equivalent to 45% (5 / 11). If you want to see grades in your grade book displayed as letter grades, it may be simpler to edit the category settings and change the display mode as discussed in Create Grade Categories.

Custom Grading Scales

To create a custom grading scale:

  1. Login to Moodle and click Grades in the Settings block. The Grader report will open.
  2. Click Scales in the Settings block under Grade Administration. The Scales screen will open.
  3. Click Add a new scale. The Create scale screen will open.
  4. Type a name for your scale in the Name box.
  5. Enter the actual terms of your scale in order from least to greatest, separated by commas (e.g. "Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent").
  6. (Optional) Enter a description for your scale.
  7. Click Save Changes when complete.