- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Grade Inflation
- From: George Sheridan <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 23:33:15 -0800
Do you think "Grade Inflation" is the new party line for testocrats?
Besides the Jay Matthews column in the Washington Post that angered Susan
Ohanian, here's a Detroit News article quoting a Manhattan Institute study
on grade inflation and suggesting that test scores are more reliable
indicators of student performance than are grades.
"Grade Inflation Cheats Students As Employers Get Wise to Scam
High schoolers graduate without skills, and business looks beyond college
grades to assess job applicants
By The Detroit News
Grade inflation -- long an inside joke in Michigan schools and elsewhere --
has serious economic consequences. Students who slide through high school
are finding out they can't cut college, much less get that high-paying job
they want, says new research.
Colleges, meanwhile, are spending millions of dollars to teach students
basic skills they should have learned in high school -- dunning taxpayers
twice for the same education.
And now the crunch: Employers are getting fed up with bloated and
meaningless grade point averages. Many are now emphasizing other indicators
to assess job applicants.
All of which is a heads-up for educators.
Padding grades or pushing students through school to make them feel good
about themselves is backfiring.
Eventually, students who enjoyed grade inflation learn the truth about
their academic skills and feel cheated. That's because they have been. They
got a grade they didn't deserve.
A grade is essentially a school's warranty to a student that he or she
knows lessons at a certain level. In today's lawsuit-happy society, it
wouldn't be surprising if a student sued a high school or college for
providing false feedback in report cards. Accountability suits have been
filed on shakier grounds than fake grades.
Only 32 percent of students leave public high schools qualified to attend a
four-year college, says a study by the Manhattan Institute for Policy
Research sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Even students with good grades arrive unprepared because -- despite high
marks -- they don't know the material, say other reports.
Unfortunately, grade inflation rolls right through many colleges, too.
Harvard University recently reformed its grading system after criticism
that too many A's were handed out. Nearly 90 percent of all students
graduated with honors.
In Metro Detroit, high school grades over 10 years increased dramatically
compared with scores on standardized tests. As teachers hand out easy
grades, the value of a high grade point average declines.
To make matters worse, many students get easy grades in easy courses --
studies that don't emphasize rigorous mathematics, science and writing.
In Georgia, 40 percent of the high school students who earn the state's
Hope Scholarship lose it after a year in college because they can't keep up
The Manhattan Institute concluded that the big losers in grade inflation
are minorities. "By far the most important reason black and Hispanic
students are underrepresented in college is the failure of the K-12
education system to prepare them for college, rather than insufficient
financial aid or inadequate affirmative action policies," researchers said.
Frustrated employers are wise to the grade inflation ruse, and more are now
looking at test scores -- such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) --
to determine a job applicant's true potential. By examining SATs, employers
can make informed decisions amid the overflow "A" students.
Employer rejection of grade inflation raises the question: What's the point
of cheap grades? There is none.
Nor has there ever been much value in giving credit where it is not due.
The system should die a quick and quiet death.
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