Setting standards to determine core clerkship grades in pediatrics

Robert A. Dudas, Michael A. Barone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective One of the greatest challenges for clerkship directors is assigning a final grade and determining the precise point at which a student either passes or fails a clinical clerkship. The process of incorporating both subjective and objective assessment data to provide a final summative grade can be challenging. We describe our experience conducting a standard-setting exercise to set defensible cut points in a 4-tiered grading system in our pediatric clerkship. Methods Using the Hofstee standard-setting approach, 8 faculty members participated in an exercise to establish grade cut points. These faculty members were subsequently surveyed to assess their attitudes toward the standard-setting process as well as their reactions to these newly proposed standards. We applied the new cut points to a historic cohort of 116 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine students from the academic year 2012-2013 to assess the potential impact on grade distributions. Results The resultant grading schema would lead to a significant increase in the number of students receiving a failing grade and a decrease in the number of students receiving a grade of honors in a historical cohort. Faculty reported that the Hofstee method was easy to understand and fair. All faculty members thought that grade inflation presently exists within the pediatric clerkship. Conclusions This study demonstrates that practical standards using the Hofstee method can be set for medical students in a pediatric clerkship in which multiple performance measures are used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Assessment
  • clinical clerkship
  • medical education
  • medical student

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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