Grade Inflation


Grade Inflation Essay, Research Paper

What is the definition of grade inflation? The most obvious definition is that grade patterns change so that the overwhelming majority of students in a class, college, or university receive higher grades for the same quantity and quality of work done by students in the past. A corollary to this definition is the same GPA obtained by students with poorer academic skill. Another less well known version of grade inflation is “content deflation” where students receive the same grades as students in the past but with less work required and less learning. Grade inflation is a big problem in the United States, and hurting students all around the world.

Grade inflation is an issue because university administrators and other individuals concerned with outcome tallying in higher education have conducted a variety of statistical analyses and identified some “alarming” trends. The average grade in some courses has gone up significantly. Along with this trend, students have come to expect higher grades. At present, in certain courses and departments, the average student expects to get a B or A in the course and in fact most students get A’s or B’s in the courses. Students receiving grades of C or less feel the instructor has evaluated their performance as less than satisfactory. At one time, a grade of C was an average grade and grades of B and A were reserved for recognition of above average or truly exceptional performance.

The fear is that our courses have been “dumbed down” or that Universities are lowering standards and reducing requirements and that this accounts for the higher grades. The concern is that if the requirements for getting a college degree are being lowered, the meaning of a college degree may change, and a college degree may have less value. Further concern about this issue comes from the perception on the part of some faculty that students are less well prepared or less qualified than they used to be.

It is a clich? that when grades are inflated they convey less information. The clich? is only half-true. On the one hand, inflated grades fail to distinguish between the somewhat above average and the truly superior. But on the other hand, inflated grades do a super job of distinguishing among fine gradations of weakness. When the average grade is a B, the strong students are all lumped together with A’s, while the weak ones are sorted into C’s, D’s, and F’s. Grade inflation harms the best students the most because the good grades they earn are discounted when a course, an instructor, or a university gets a reputation for grading too easily. One should remark, however, that it hurts all students, because when one receives a grade higher than ones performance merits, ones instructor has either failed to exercise his/her professional judgement of ones work, or has failed to deliver that judgement honestly.

Grade inflation has become a serious problem at many institutions. The importance of grades can be and often is greatly overestimated; they can play a significant role in the educational process. A grades that a B is considered a dismal, failing grade and one that totally shatters their self-esteem. Possible solutions, which would restore meaning to grades, include the enforcement of standards in our institutions of higher learning. This is unthinkable in an age of post 60s student democracy. Everyone has a right to high grades. The question is how high should students get? A preferred solution is to reform the grading system so that while all grades are very good, some are better than others, to distinguish between the two are.

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