Evaluating Students

Evaluating Students

I currently have a part-time job where I am evaluating middle and high school students to attend a prestigious summer camp.  Top students from all over the world are applying, and so I am seeing report cards from many countries.  They differ significantly.*

In Hong Kong, in addition to getting evaluated for subject matter, the student earns grades for their appearance, their discipline, and their courtesy.  Additionally, the student earns grades for living skills and art ability.  The grades listed are numeric values between 0 and 100; the highest numbers are very difficult to attain.  One student I evaluated was near the top of his/her class, but his/her average score was about 80%.

In Singapore, in each subject, a student will be evaluated for his/her self management, organization, and communication.  The grades the student might earn in each of these sub-categories are “cause for concern”, “sufficient”, “strong”, and “clear.”  So, a student could receive “Sufficient” in Math-Communication and “Clear” in Math-Self Management.  In Thailand, for each subject, in addition to having a mastery of the subject evaluated, each student is scored on Responsibility, Engagement, Respect, and Reflection.  Additionally, the student is required to evaluate him/herself in a paragraph at the end of the term that is included in their transcript.  In Pakistan, in addition to being evaluated on mastery of the subject material, a student is evaluated on effort, ownership of learning, focus, open-mindedness, preparedness, and engagement.

In many countries, each teacher provides a written evaluation for each student along with the final grade.  Or a counselor will provide a written evaluation of the student’s overall aptitude.  Several countries provide progress reports along with the final grade for the term as part of the permanent record.  Many countries list the total number of days that the student attended the course (along with any absences).

And in America, without fail, each student receives a single letter grade for each subject.

It’s easy to see that the version we have in the US is easiest for the teachers and provides the least detailed information to the students and their parents.  Additionally, it illustrates that the focus of education in the US is limited to mastery of the subject, where the focus of education in many other places seems to be more holistic.


* Note that several students I evaluated attend private schools.  And the methods of evaluation  may differ even between schools in the same country.


4 thoughts on “Evaluating Students

  1. Nick,

    It’s obvious that our current system is not ideal. As scientists we always want more data, do you think some of these data points are noisy and the average parent or admissions officer might have an issue understanding a more complicated report card?

    Teachers have a hard job, how would we encourage them to provide more detailed, and useful metrics for a students performance? Do we have to legislate it? Do we need smaller class sizes so more detailed reports are feasible?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder how much selection bias you are seeing in your observations. You are evaluating students for a prestigious summer camp so I’d guess you are likely to see more top-tier students from these countries.


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