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Essay about Grade Inflation Effect

A Study on Grade Inflation: The Inflation of Grades in American Educational Institutions An epidemic is what one might call the trend of the slowly increasing average in the grades of colleges all across America. It is a particularly subtle ascension, albeit a troublesome one. Grade inflation is a major issue in the American educational institutions it affects- data reveals the various causes that lead to the inflation of grades- caused both by students and their instructors, which in turn has many adverse effects.

A general consensus circulates the staff of American schools- that this rise in awarded grades was most noticed in the mid-nineteen sixties, around the time of the Vietnam War. Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke professor, preformed a study on the subject of grade point average trends of American colleges. Most notably, the grades earned by college students during the Vietnam War were well documented by data collected by Arvo Juola (as cited in Rojstaczer, 2016), a college administrator from Michigan State. Juola illustrates the sharp rise in the percent in “A” grades awarded.

This inflation is not primarily due to the increase of student intelligence in the nineteen sixties, but of sympathetic professors. According to Rojstaczer (2016), full-time male college students were not subject to participating in the draft, a mandatory recruitment for military service- on one condition, however. To qualify for an exemption in the draft, a student must hold onto adequate grades in order to maintain their fulltime status. Professors quickly realized this fact- to fail a student would be the equivalent of sending him to his death.

Thus, GPAS rose substantially, never quite returning to its original average. Rojstaczer (2016) labels this era period of time the “Vietnam era of grade inflation”. However, these professors could not have predicted that their gestures of kindness would ultimately spiral into something that would be constantly rising. The Pressure on American Students to Maintain a High GPA The trend of inflated grades in America had predominantly originated as a result of well-intentioned professors assisting their students, creating a ripple effect.

Higher grades have been awarded all across the country. Dartmouth college, member of the Ivy League and top contender for the best college in the United States, has a peculiar trend in the institution’s average GPAs. Referencing data collected from the Office of the President, University of Chicago (as cited in Rojstaczer, 2016), one can see that the average GPA had risen a substantial amount. In roughly 1926, a typical student would receive a 2. 11. In 1968, a year before the Vietnam War draft, it was 2. 8. In 1974, respectively one year after the draft, the average was 3. 04.

The grade point averages increased at a steady rate and would continue to rise- a student in 2011 would receive a GPA of 3. 41. Similar to Dartmouth, Stanford University, another Ivy League University, also falls victim to grade inflation. In 1926 the average GPA was 2. 49 and jumped all the way to 3. 57 in 2011. A year before and after the Vietnam War held a 2. 98 and a 3. 28. Closely analyzing the data from Dartmouth and Stanford would reveal that both schools suffered heavy bouts of rising grade point averages. The average increased most along the period of the Vietnam War draft, with Dartmouth suffering a 0. 4 increase while Stanford with 0. 3 increase in the school’s average. In general, the average grade awarded at a four-year institution is an A, and continues to climb (2016). Christopher Healy, a computer science professor at Furman University, has collected data from community colleges.

In turn, Rojstaczer (2016) had plotted this data in order to visualize the averages every five years. From the data collected over the year 1960 to 2011, the most common grades given to community college students are A’s and B’s. However, as of 2011, the amount of A’s awarded has dropped slightly and the percentage of F’s has egun to rise. An explanation of this drop can be speculatedperhaps student morale has burnt out, leaving only remnants of the quality work they once provided. At a time, the rise in the amount of A’s given to students had been higher than that of a four-year institution. As of the present, however, the trend has begun to taper off and drop. At first glance, it would be difficult to imagine how grade inflation could possibly be harmfulstudents with higher GPAs are believed to be more intelligent, while schools that house these students gain prestige.

As mentioned earlier, this grade trend is a ripple effect, with each wave bringing forth assets and liabilities. The Consequences of Grade Inflation Most good things in life come with a catch. As mentioned previously, inflating the grades of students means that more individuals receive higher grades than they would typically receive. This section will examine the process of rewarding students for simply completing their work, incorrect teacher evaluations, and the reasoning behind professors that inflate grades.

Rewarding Word Done vs. Work Well Done In Student Sorting and Implications for Grade Inflation by Michael C. Herron- a professor of government at Dartmouth College- and Zachary D. Markovich- a research associate at Harvard University-discuss in depth the performance of students in a set model. In this model, Herron and Markovich (2016) examine a set of students who have the ability to choose for themselves between two departments-“ability-revealing” and” ability-concealing”.

An ability-revealing department’s courses are built to distinguish between students with high ability- students that respond well to rigor and challenge- and students with low ability- students that tend to take the easy way out of assignments. In this model, clear line is drawn between the two groups of students. However, unlike the ability-revealing department, there is no distinction between the high and low ability students in the ability-concealing department. Every student, regardless of skill, receives high marks.

A clear example of this occurs not at a university, but at a high school. Enterprise High School in Montana (Briggs, 2013) had thirty-four individuals qualified for the spot of valedictorian. Enterprise High falls under the category of an ability-concealing school, where the institution fails to separate the best student from the good students. This is a major issue- students are receiving incorrect feedback on their work, a false evaluation of their skill. It begs the question the actual skill of the thirty-four students, as well as how Enterprise’s grading policies.

In this case, grade inflation has more of a negative impact than vice versa- both the student’s and the institution’s dependability is called into question. Perhaps it is to be expected, the high cost of college tuition forces students not to act as a students, but as consumers- the students in question expect nothing less than excellence- deserved or not, when they are spending thousands of dollars. With grade inflation becoming more common, why should students be inclined to work hard if they can receive an A by completing the bare minimum?

The reward for academic excellence begins to seem less desireable that the reward for a satisfactory mark, a physical representation of the effort they put into the course. This becomes a battle of instant progress versus the process of learning, how learning is not as valuable as seeing one’s grades skyrocket to the valuable A. Grade Inflation and Professors Another issue that is an effect of grade inflation is the incorrect evaluation of faculty members, as well as the reasoning behind teachers who inflate grades.

What is meant by the incorrect evaluation of faculty members being an effect of grade inflation is more about the lack of it. To keep things consistent, we will be examining a professor’s rating from Dartmouth. Ratemyprofessors. com is a site where students are able to rate their teachers on a scale of zero to five and according to the site, Kohn (Meir Kohn at Dartmouth College) has an average rating of 2. 8. Examining the student reviews- fourteen of them- reveals a consistent trend. Ratings above 4. 0 applaud Kohn’s teaching ability and appreciate the difficulty of his course.

In comparison, ratings that fell below 4. were mostly ad hominem attacks against the professor personally rather than the course he is instructing. Judging from the reviews alone, it appears that Meir Kohn’s course is an ability-revealing course as opposed to a ability-concealing course. His course separates high-ability students willing to put in the effort from low-ability students. The low-ability students retaliated by giving their professor a low rating without giving any valid reasoning behind it. Unlike Meir Kohn’s course, which separates the best students from average students, some professors prefer to inflate their students grades.

Allison Schrager, an Ivy League teaching assistant, admitted her reasons behind inflating her students grades. While some professors awarded higher grades in order to help their students achieve more after college, Schrager (2013) admits to inflating grades for the sole purpose of not having to deal with student complaints. She states that a former student approached her and stated that Schrager (2013) “destroyed” their chance of landing a particular job they had applied for and that she “ruined [their] life”.

This childish retort stated by Schrager’s former student did not earn them any pity from Schrager herself because the student could have worked harder in order to earn the grade that they had wanted to begin with. Even if a student believes they had earned an A while their professor had given them a B plus, there is little room to complain without sounding immature. For every student that requests for their professor to alter their grade there is likely dozens more with the same dilemma that do not speak up, how could that be seen as fair?

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