Interpreting numbers can be tricky.
Last week, the city released the 2009 performance evaluation of outgoing City Manager Penelope Culbreth-Graft under an open-records request.
The one-page document showed that Culbreth-Graft received an overall rating of 2.12 on a 3-point scale.
Hoping to make the rating a little more meaningful to the average reader, I asserted that it represented 71 percent of the highest possible grade, or a “C-” on a traditional grading scale.
Knowing some people would disagree, I also stated that it was up for debate.
Well, the debate quickly ensued.
Some people squawked – and after further consideration – with some reason.
A similar debate flared up three years ago when an old colleague gave Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte a “C” for scoring 3.66 on a 5-point scale.
While I eat some humble pie, I’ll let you read part of what my boss had to say on the subject:
“According to (Vice Mayor) Larry Small, the council members had only three options in each of the nine categories that they assigned a rating to the city manager. They could give Culbreth-Graft a 1, 2 or 3. They weren’t allowed to split a rating; no 2.5, or 1.75. Just 1, 2 or 3,” he said.
“The only way to get above a D in any single category is to get the highest rating possible, a 3. Only a 3 gets you an A,” he added. “A rating of 2 gets you a D. There is no rating that equates to a B or a C. This system does not translate smoothly to the 0-100 scale from which 5 possible letter grades typically are derived. For council members to move Culbreth-Graft up or down by, say, 10 percent on the 0-100 scale would have required them to make individual ratings adjustments that had a magnitude of 33 percent.”