This is the million-dollar question among those who use APPA’s levels of clean scoring system. Teams who use APPA scores want to know which scores map to which percentages — and how to convert between the two.

The short (and sometimes frustrating) answer is: There is no official answer. You can pretty much decide for yourself. But . . . we’re not going to leave you hanging. There’s more you should know before you create your own rubric!

We’re going to examine why you’d want to convert between APPA levels and percentages, what to consider, and common mistakes to avoid.

Plus, as an added bonus, we’re offering a free download of an APPA/percentage conversion tool we’ve created. We hope it makes things simpler for you and your team.

Why convert between APPA scores and percentages?

If you’re reading this, you may already have a reason in mind! We hear from teams all the time who want to convert scores back and forth. In fact, when we talked with consultant Judy Gillies, she said it’s one of the biggest questions she gets from her clients.

APPA scores and percentage-based scores are different ways of measuring the same thing: the quality of cleaning at your facility. But there are certain circumstances where using one or the other will make more sense.

It’s similar to Celsius and Fahrenheit. Both measure temperature. It doesn’t really matter which you use — but if you want to compare two temperatures, you’ll need to use the same scale. Additionally, most need to mentally convert to whichever scale we don’t normally use.

Going back to APPA- and percentage-based scores: Both measure the cleaning quality at your facilities. But different scales may make more sense in different situations.

The administrative team and higher-ups at your facility likely want to hear about quality control on an APPA scale. If you have an SLA with your organization, it likely uses APPA scoring language. Additionally, if you want to compare your team’s performance with other educational facilities, you’ll likely be looking at APPA scores.

On the other hand, percentage scores are easier for most new teams. You don’t need a lot of training to know a 100% is great! It gives you the most clarity when you’re talking about this to employees.

Why might you not want to convert between APPA and percentages?

But if your team is very fluent in APPA already, of course you could stick with APPA at every level.

APPA levels are very clear, with a detailed breakdown offered in APPA’s Operational Guidelines for Educational Facilities: Custodial. (We’ve also got a handy chart with the basics of the APPA levels of clean in this post.) If everyone on your team is comfortable with APPA, you might want to keep things simple and avoid going back and forth between APPA and percentages.

What to consider when creating your ratings

APPA doesn’t offer a conversion scale of their own, so it’s up to your organization to decide what works best.

To start, you’ll want to think through what defines success and failure for your team.

The team cleaning flagship buildings on campus with an SLA to maintain APPA Level 1 has a much different definition of success than a team hired to maintain an APPA Level 3 for a school district.

Your goals need to be reflected in your conversion. The beauty of percentage scores is that they’re intuitive — we all know from our school days that a 95% on your report card is brag-worthy, while a 60% might get you grounded.

For the team trying to maintain APPA Level 1, your percentages for APPA Level 3 alert you that your team is far below standards. But for the team trying to maintain APPA Level 3, your percentages for APPA Level 3 will probably be higher to reflect that you are meeting expectations.

Suggested APPA level percentages

We’ve created a conversion tool that offers a suggestion for percentages, but you can also create a custom scale within the tool. Here are the percentages we suggest:

  • APPA Level 1: 89–100%
  • APPA Level 2: 77–88%
  • APPA Level 3: 65–76%
  • APPA Level 4: 53–64%
  • APPA Level 5: 0–52%

Use these as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to adjust.

The key: Be consistent

The most important thing is to be consistent within your own organization. That way, you’ll be able to compare buildings, line items, and more over time.

On the same note, if you’re comparing scores with a different organization, be mindful that they may not be using the same conversion.

Should you use mid-level scores?

We see some teams use so-called “mid-level APPA scores,” such as a 2+ or “high 2,” a regular 2, and a 2- or “low 2.”

In most instances, we don’t recommend this.

The beauty of APPA is in its simplicity and specificity. Because the ranges are broader, it’s easier to get everyone on the same page about what kind of clean merits which score; adding more scores makes it less likely each inspector will grade on the same scale.

Additionally, mid-level scores introduce a qualitative element to an otherwise quantitative scale. For us, it’s not worth the extra complexity.

Next step: download our conversion tool

To help simplify your team’s process, we’ve created an APPA-to-percentage conversion tool. It’s a free Excel document that will allow you to customize your conversion scale and easily switch back and forth between APPA levels and percentages. We hope it makes life easier for your team!

For more insight on trends in custodial and facilities maintenance at educational facilities, check out all our posts on APPA.