BY CHRISTOPHER PANNA

As if the end of holiday break isn’t enough of a bummer, January also means semester exams for many secondary teachers. And despite our efforts to write fair exams, sometimes the grades just don’t turn out as we think they will. Should we use a curve? If you’re looking to make such an adjustment, a math blog called Division by Zero offers a complete guide to curving exam grades.

We may think of curving as something for college professors, and while the blog author is exactly that, the technique is certainly useful at the secondary level, too. Before detailing the process, it starts with a thoughtful introduction about when and why we might consider curving exam grades. There follows an explanation of 10 different ways to curve (eight serious and two humorous), including the pros and cons of each method. It’s an excellent overview that will leave you with plenty of options should your students not quite produce the grades you expect.

For lovers of math, the blog offers plenty of other interesting topics, but this guide would be useful for teachers of any subject. However, in deciding when and how to curve, I’ll echo the blog author’s advice: “Use your judgment. You know the class, and you know the material.”

Then again, there’s always this approach. Happy grading!

How to curve an exam and assign grades