Grade inflation

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James C. Moeller:
Grade inflation is a disease that threatens both the credibility of the teacher and the student.

Recently, I gave a midterm exam, and the class scored an average of 78 percent. Some students said the test was too hard, but I countered that all of the material had been made available to them in the textbook and lectures. It was their responsibility to study for the test (one student later confessed to not having studied for the exam). Harvard University has a problem with grade inflation, and Temple University fired one of it's faculty members for grading too hard.

What's a professor to do?

James C. Moeller
Grace University
Omaha, NE

George A. Lozano:
For relatively large classes (30+ students), and particularly 1st- and 2nd-year classes, an "easy" solution is to include class averages (mean, median, or mode) as a prominent part of official transcripts. Then it is up to the individuals reading those transcripts to interpret what those grades really signify.

The question could then be taken to the very students about to receive those grades and one could ask them to vote on their desired class average. Students who think they are better than average would vote for a relatively low class average; students who think they are sub-standard would vote for a high class average.

The instructor would no longer have to play games all term, making assignments and exams relatively easy or harder to arrive at a "desirable" average, or have to deal with disgruntled students claiming the course was too difficult. Everything would be settled by the first day of class; it would be totally in the students' hands, and it would be there for everyone to see.

I've just been awarded tenure and promotion at a pretend university. I've been kissing ass and inflating grades for six years.

I never inflated grades until after I acquired my tenure-track position. After completing my first year, I will say that if I didn't grade on a curve, I would fail half of my students (a failing grade where I teach is a D or lower). I feel that if I don't inflate grades, then my evaluations might suffer, and students would complain, and thus I would lose my position, although I have been informed that this is not the case.

What gets me is that students don't read before class, nor do they put much effort into studying before their exams. But then they have the balls to complain about their grades and how it effects their grade-point average, scholarships, etc. I feel this is complete crap, since then I am left to explain to them how they got their grades, because they don't even possess the basic math skills to figure out how I calculated their grades.

I love my job, but I hate the grading aspect of my job.

Anonymous wrote:
> I've just been awarded tenure and promotion at a pretend
> university. I've been kissing ass and inflating grades for
> six years.

Anon Again:
I was at an institution where it was possible to be in classes of 40 or more students and have no one get an A  (as one professor told me, "six of you deserve one, and that is too many, so to be fair, you will all get Bs").

Still, it did make it more difficult for the students when they applied for graduate school.

The plus side was that with a grade-point average of 3.28, I was on the dean's list for three years running, got the departmental honor the year I graduated, and scored 800 on my GRE, which I took with 20 hours of classes in my major left to complete.

Still, it took one adviser three pages in my recommendation letter to adequately explain the situation.


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