A question about the Russian system: when allocated marks to students, are the results raw or normalised?
(Raw would mean that it is theoretically possible for no pupil to get a 5 that year, and normalised means that the raw scores would be adjusted so that roughly the same number of students in the country get a 5 in that subject.)
The results are raw—at least, they were as late as this year.
The grade, however, may be very dependent on the general quality of education in a given school. I suspect when I was getting "3"s in mathematical subjects I was still doing better than most pupils with "5"s in the "ordinary" schools. I can attest that a student of an ordinary school can easily get into the "4 to 5" range while their knowledge of the subject is in fact superficial and skills only cover the most unimaginative assignments. It was rewarding to get a student at least try applying a few approaches to a problem which did not have a solution in plain sight—yet I doubt many get there.
Thank you for answering so promptly. May I ask a little more? Does your comment about "ordinary" schools imply that children are selected into particular schools by ability?
Also, would the reference to grade in the sentence above refer to classwork or homework, or is this how you refer to an exam result?
No, generally they are not. It is just that some schools are more equal than others. Now, I cannot speak for all the country: in Moscow, though, I was surprised by how low the bar can get. It boils down to the simple fact—it is difficult to teach a disinterested person who would rather do something else (feel blessed if your kids merely watch GoT, Dark Matter and/or The Walking Dead).
My hypothesis is that you have a positive feedback loop here. Schools that actually teach something attract parents who want their kids to get into a decent university. Worse schools in the same district are left with kids whose parents are happy with their children being in a pen of sorts. No one likes a smartaleck, so better pupils feel encouraged to switch schools, which does not exactly make a mediocre school better.
- naturally, if most kids demonstrate passable performance at best, a teacher is inclined to issue "4" or "5" to those few who do their homework and study—even though, strictly speaking, solving basic problems is hardly the limit of your skill.
There are, of course, advanced schools and/or groups that select kids by ability, such as the one I completed.
- they basically made a maths-focused class from children who were already way above average and started a less boring maths course from there.
As far as I know, the grades are the same for everything. I don't think many teachers grade homework these days: kids mainly get grades for tests and classwork. Your term grade is then determined as an average or some weighted average of different assignments you did. Sometimes you get a test to complete at home. It makes me sad to see how kids cannot solve rather RTFM-style assignments when all Google is at their disposal.
@Vlad798428 - I think it might be easier to explain using a similar example. Imagine you have a basket full of apples, pears, plums and bananas. You close your eyes, reach in and grab something, and pull it out. You would say, "I got a pear". Similarly, a person can get many different grades (A, B, C, D, F), but they will only get an A or a B out of those possible grades. And even though only one student is getting one B, the whole class is also getting grades. So if everyone else got A's and C's and you got a B, then it could be appropriate in some contexts to say the B. For instance,
- "Who's the lucky person who got the B?"
- "I got the B".
- "I got the only B in class".
But in general, you probably won't know everyone else's grades, you probably aren't the only person to get a B, and it's just far more common to say a B outside of those rather specific situations.
And in the US, some schools do have slightly different grading schemes. A very high B (think 87-89%) could be a B+, while a low B (80-83%) could be a B-. They do the same things for A's and C's, too. I don't think it's common in undergraduate and graduate level programs, though, and it's ultimately all the same thing - a "B+" and a "B-" are still going to factor in as a 3.0 when calculating a student's Grade Point Average, and I think the only time it might play a role is when they are trying to determine who the valedictorian is (the highest achieving academic student of a graduating class). That's what I've seen in my experience, growing up on the US West Coast.