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Ivy League grade inflation OpEd



A curious mis-statement of the issue: the grade inflation argument
RELIES on test scores as "evidence", so how can one argue that grade
inflation PROMOTES reliance on tests? It's worth having the OpEd, but
they really should have considered the nature of the argument that
led to the story before expressing opinion.

VS-)

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/usatoday/20020208/cm_usatoday/3840223
Op/Ed - USA TODAY

Ivy League grade inflation Ivy League grade inflation
Fri Feb 8, 6:47 AM ET

When a report found recently that eight out of every 10 Harvard
students graduate with honors and nearly half receive A's in their
courses, the news prompted plenty of discussion and more than a few
jokes. But is grade inflation worth worrying about?

Really smart students probably deserve really high grades. Moreover,
tough graders could alienate their students. Plus, tough grading
makes a student less likely to get into graduate school, which could
make Harvard look bad in college rankings.

All are among reasons cited by professors in explaining why grade
inflation is nothing to worry about. And all are insufficient
justification for the practice. College-grade inflation -- which is
probably an extension of the well-documented grade inflation in high
schools -- is a problem. And it extends well beyond Harvard.

Fewer than 20% of all college students receive grades below a
B-minus, according to a study released this week by the American
Academy of Arts & Sciences. That hardly seems justified at a time
when a third of all college students arrive on campus so unprepared
that they need to take at least one remedial course.

The report sifts through several possible causes for the inflated
grades. Among them:

* A holdover practice from the 1960s, when professors knew that F's
triggered a draft notice and a trip to Vietnam.

* An influx of more students, including some minorities, who are less
prepared for college work. Grading leniency is believed to encourage
their continued academic participation and promote self-esteem.

* Evaluation systems in which students grade professors, thereby
providing an incentive for teachers to go easy on their future
evaluators.

* An explosion in the number of overburdened adjunct professors who
lack the time to evaluate each student more accurately.

The authors of the report cast doubt on several of those
explanations, including the influx of minorities. They barely touch
on an obvious explanation offered by several professors: Families
paying more than $30,000 a year for a college education expect
something more for their money than a report card full of gentleman's
Cs.

More important than the reasons for inflated grades is the impact they have.

When all students receive high marks, graduate schools and business
recruiters simply start ignoring the grades. That leads the graduate
schools to rely more on entrance tests. It prompts corporate
recruiters to depend on a ''good old boy/girl'' network in an effort
to unearth the difference between who looks good on paper and who is
actually good.

Put to disadvantage in that system are students who traditionally
don't test as well or lack connections. In many cases, those are the
poor and minority students who are the first in their families to
graduate from college. No matter how hard they work, their A's look
ordinary.

Viewed in that light, the fact that 50% of all Harvard students now
get A's is a troubling problem.

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