top of page

Rethink Grading

What's in a Grade? 

A Multiple Perspective Validity Study on Grading Policies, Practices, Values, and Consequences

What is this study about?

The current global trend towards globalization, immigration, and internationalization of schools and universities has led to the increased use of grades across learning cultures. However, very little is known about cultural differences that contribute to the construction, valuing, and consequences of grading practices. The purpose of this study is to investigate the validity of grades by examining the values and consequences of teachers’ grading practices in two distinct learning cultures: Canada and China. There is an urgent need to understand the validity of grades across learning cultures given their use for student promotion, mobility, and acceptance into educational programs internationally.

Why is this study important?

Selected Journal Publications

Currently, the lack of research on grading practices provides unprecedented challenges to grade interpretation and use across educational systems. Grades are often used as the key decision-making tool for the acceptance of students into Canadian universities. However, grades are not consistently constructed or valued across educational systems. Therefore, understanding the differences in grading practices in Canada and China will enable valid interpretations of student achievement based on grades. Establishing valid grade interpretations is critical given the direct impact these interpretations have on the many students who come to Canada to study and settle, and on Canada itself-socially, educationally, and economically. The short-term impact is evident in changing dynamics in schools and neighbourhoods across Canada; the long-term impact will be evident in the availability of knowledge workers, professionals, and citizens supporting the Canadian economy.


Despite the impact of grading on classroom teaching and learning, researchers have long recognized the lack of theoretical grounding of teachers’ grading practices. They have called for examining grading practices with contemporary validity theories instead of traditional psychometric approaches to validity, which are ill-fitted to classroom assessment practices as they rely on standardized assessments and large-scale data. In contrast, contemporary validity theories integrate multiple perspectives into a socio-culturally situated argument on the alignment of grading practices, values, and consequences. Our study integrates the perspectives of teachers, students, parents, and principals to understand the validity of grading practices within and across two learning cultures. A comparative study of Canada and China provides a unique opportunity to understand the socio-cultural factors influencing the validity of grades.

Pasquini, R., DeLuca, C., & Cheng, L. (2021). Grading as dilemmatic space: Exploring teachers’ grading work in Canada and Switzerland, Comparative & International Education, 49(2), 51-70.

Summary Full Article


Cheng, L., DeLuca, C., Braund, H., Wei, Y., & Rasooli, A. (2020). Teachers' grading decisions and practices across Canadian and Chinese secondary schools. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 67,

Summary Full Article


DeLuca, C., Cheng, L., & Volante, L. (2019). Grading across Canada: Policies, practices, and perils. Education Canada.

Full Article

Volante, L., & DeLuca, C. (2018). Educators must commit now to tackle grade inflation. The Conversation Canada.

Full Article 

Cheng, L., DeLuca, C., Braund, H., & Yan, W. (2018). Grading in Canada and China: A comparative study. Comparative and International Education, 47(1), 1-24.

Infographic Summary Full Article


DeLuca, C., Braund, H., Valiquette, A., & Cheng, L. (2017). Grading policies and practices in Canada: A landscape study. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 184, 4-22.

Infographic Summary Full Article


Cheng, L., Yan, W., Mei, Y., & DeLuca, C. (2017). Grading policies in China: Are we assessing the learner or the learning? Assessment Matters, 11, 6-31.


bottom of page