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Quarterly and Annual Grades in Danish School Records

Lene Dræby Kottal
Quarterly and Annual Grades in Danish School Records

Many school records have been kept and they are gradually being digitized. In this post I describe the Danish grading system over time and show an example of a grade book.

Above is an example of a grade book listing quarterly and annual grades for each pupil at the Danish secondary school, Faaborg Borger- og Realskole.I have cropped and adjusted two images into one, because the digitized record spans two images. Click my image to open the original image at the website of the Danish National Archives.

The record shows that the pupil Frederik Marinus Jensen Dahlkild, born 9 May 1892 (third column), passed middle school in June 1908 at the school Faaborg og Omegns Realskole (forth column). The grades are divided into sections A, required classes, and B, elective classes. For each class is listed four quarterly grades and an annual grade. Grades were given for:

  • Oral Danish.
  • Two foreign languages. In Frederik's case, oral English and oral German.
  • Oral calculation and arithmetic.
  • Science.
  • History.
  • Geography.
  • Natural history.
  • Gymnastics.
  • Tidiness in written assignments: Danish; calculation and arithmetic.
  • Elective class. In Frederik's case, French.

Danish Grading Systems

The Danish grading system has been changed several times.2

From 1775 a system of four Latin terms was used at universities and upper secondary schools:

  • Laudabilis: Commendable (above average)
  • Haud illaudabilis: Definitely not unworthy of praise (average)
  • Non contemnendus: Not despicable (average)
  • Rejectus: Failed (below average)

In 1809 a new scale called the ug-scale was introduced:

  • ug, udmærket god: Excellent (above average)
  • mg, meget god: Very good (average)
  • g, god: Good (average)
  • tg, temmelig god: Pretty good (below average)
  • mdl, mådelig: Mediocre (below average)
  • slet, uantagelig: Unacceptable (below average)

You will not only see this scale in school records, but also in confirmation records from the 1800s, where the minister recorded his grades for the knowledge and behavior of the candidates.

From 1850 the Ørstedske scale was introduced, named after H. C. Ørsted who proposed the use of this scale. It was the ug-scale with added numbers to enable the calculation of an average:

  • ug: 8 (above average)
  • mg: 7 (average)
  • g: 5 (average)
  • tg: 1 (below average)
  • mdl: -7 (below average)
  • slet: -23 (below average)

From 1906 to 1911/1919 the grading system was very simple and only numbers were assigned:

  • 8 (above average), not used from 1911
  • 6 (above average)
  • 5 (average)
  • 4 (average)
  • 3 (below average)
  • 2 (below average)
  • 0 (below average)

From 1919 the Ørstedske scale was broadened by giving the possibility of adding pluses and minuses to the grades of the ug-scale. The number grade was then for instance 7 1/3 (mg+) or 7 2/3 (ug-). In 1943 a new variant was introduced by adding seven to all the numbers, so that only the completely unacceptable performance was assigned a negative grade.

In 1963 the 13-scale was introduced:

  • 13: The exceptionally independent and excellent performance (above average)
  • 11: The excellent and independent performance (above average)
  • 10: The excellent but somewhat routine performance (above average)
  • 9: The good performance which is a little above medium (average)
  • 8: The mediocre performance (average)
  • 7: The fairly mediocre performance which is slightly below medium (average)
  • 6: A somewhat uncertain, but fairly satisfactory performance (average or below average)
  • 5: The uncertain and unsatisfactory performance (below average)
  • 03: The very uncertain, very inadequate and unsatisfactory performance (below average)
  • 00: The totally unacceptable performance (below average)

In 2006 the 7-step scale was introduced:

  • 12: The outstanding achievement which demonstrates exhaustive fulfillment of the goals of the class, with no or few insignificant errors (above average)
  • 10: The The excellent performance which demonstrates comprehensive fulfillment of the goals of the class, with some minor errors (above average)
  • 7: The good performance which demonstrates the fulfillment of the goals of the class with some errors (average)
  • 4: The mediocre performance which demonstrates a lesser degree of fulfillment of the goals of the class, with several significant errors (average)
  • 02: The adequate performance which demonstrates the minimum acceptable degree of achievement of the goals of the class (average or below average)
  • 00: The insufficient performance which does not demonstrate an acceptable level of achievement of the goals of the class (below average)
  • -3: The totally unacceptable performance (below average)

How to Find School Records

The easiest way to find all school records from a specific school is to search for the name of the school. For records regarding elementary school, search for the name of the parish or town followed by the word skole (school). I recommend that you always use the advanced search form and that you write the * wildcard immediately after each word (no spaces in-between).

Happy hunting!


Source references:

  1. Faaborg Borger- og Realskole, Kvartals- og årskarakterprotokol for Realskolen 1908-1919, Realklassen 1908-09, entry 1; digital image, Rigsarkivet (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=279618#279618,54149281 : accessed 13 April 2019).
  2. Gyldendal - Den Store Danske (http://denstoredanske.dk/Erhverv,_karriere_og_ledelse/P%C3%A6dagogik_og_uddannelse/Skole_og_SFO/karakterer : accessed 13 April 2019), entry for "karakterer" [grades]; citing  Poul Skov, "karakterer" in Den Store Danske (Denmark, Gyldendal).
  3. The image at the top of the post: Carl Heinrich Wilke, En skolestues indretning ca. 1863, digital image, license CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folkeskolen#/media/File:Skolestue.jpg : accessed 13 April 2019).