Grading in East Asia: An examination of government policies
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Grading is a complex decision-making process that teachers engage in their daily instruction, as informed by policy. In North American contexts, the policies stipulate that a grade should be an indicator of students’ achievement and teachers are required to assign grades based on achievement only. However, less is known about the educational grading in East Asian contexts. This study examines the grading policies, through document analysis, in Mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. The documents on grading policy were mainly collected from the official websites of the Ministries of Education. Twenty-nine documents were included in the final analysis and main themes were identified inductively. Results show that grading policies in East Asian contexts relied on guidelines that were not explicitly defined. Analysis of the policy documents demonstrated that grading policy in East Asian contexts emphasized the assessment of both students’ achievement and nonachievement factors (e.g., attendance, effort) and of the learner as a whole. These results were in alignment with other empirical studies conducted to examine teachers’ practices (Liu, 2013; Sun & Cheng, 2013) and the philosophy in education in East Asian contexts. This study highlights the importance of understanding of the large learning and teaching culture where assessment and grading practices are conducted.