A common practice at many universities in the United states whereby which the letter grade or GPA value of a student's work is increased. Some argue that it is a way for these universities to artificially and unjustifiably boost the apparent skill or intelligence of its students. Read on for details.

This is how typically how grade inflation works:

Lets suppose that 200 students take an organic chemistry exam worth a total possible 100 points. Lets suppose that the mean score on this test was 60 and the standard deviation of the scores was 10 (and that the scores are normally distributed). A "flat" grading system might typically assign the letter grade "A" for scores of 90 - 100 points, a grade of "B" for 80-90 points, etc. Under flat grading something like 95% of the class would get grades of C, D and F on this exam, while only six people would get an A or a B.

Grades this low look bad all around: for the students, for the teaching professor, for the department and for the university.

Thus, instead of grades being determined by a flat scale, the scores are assigned on a curve -- that is the mean score is assigned an arbitrary letter grade and the distribution of grades around it is based on the standard deviation of the scores. In the above example, the professor might decide to make the mean score (60 points) represent the lowest possible score that earns a B- and make one standard deviation (10 points) the distance between grade levels (60 points earns the lowest B-, 70 the lowest A-, 50 the lowest C-, etc.) with all the other grades distributed linearly between the grade levels.

The result is that 50% of the class earns A's or B's of some kind, with only about six students failing the exam. Those numbers look much better, don't they? If this method is applied on every exam, then you can be guaranteed the *same* distribution of grades at the end of the class. If you apply the method throughout the entire school you can guarantee that same distribution of grades for everyone -- and thus the same distribution of grade point averages.

So who decides what the "average" grade will be?: Usually the class professor or the teaching staff. Does the class professor take orders from the head of his/her department?: Yes. Do the department heads take orders from Deans, Provosts and other university administrators?: Yes. Are department and university administrators concerned that the students make high grades and grade point averages?: You bet your ass they are.

For this reason, some argue that grade inflation has gone too far, especially in many Ivy League schools and in schools with large, challenging biomedical science programs which must often compete for attention, students, prestige and funding. "Average" grades of B or B+ are not unheard of at many schools, and Harvard has recently reported that 90% of its students graduate with honors. Is this because Harvard students are all exceptionally intelligent and competitive? Well . . . perhaps, but it isn't the only reason.

Grade inflation has the nasty side effect of making your degree worthless. For every bozo that makes it through your degree program because of grade inflation, or the related fact that the profs. are scared of failing some one, the value of your diploma plummets.

Taking the Harvard example above, if Harvard churns out too many dopey people with good grades, people are going to start realizing that a degree from Harvard does not mean that this person actually knows what they are talking about. Carried to an extreme, grade inflation may create a situation where graduates are barely functional in their area of study.

Basically, we, as teachers, have got to start failing people who don't know their stuff. Not because we are mean, or because they are dumb, but because that is the truth. When we honestly evaluate our students and are honestly evaluated by our teachers, then everyone knows what is what. The teacher can try to improve their teaching and the student can try to improve their study habits or change majors.

Grade inflation is just some kind of strange group delusion that must be stopped.

Every year British A-level results improve, and every year this causes an almighty fuss in the press. There's always a row over whether it's because education is getting better and people are working harder or because exams are getting easier.

Ask any smart teacher or pupil who has seen exams from ten or fifteen years ago and your answer will be unequivocal. OF COURSE the exams are getting easier. It's an absolute fact, and the efforts made annually by the education secretary to deny it are laughable.

Perhaps I should rephrase this. Maybe the exams aren't getting easier per se: rather, the skills needed to succeed in them are changing, and becoming less about revision or intelligence and more about exam technique. Nevertheless, it is certainly true that universities find people who arrive now know considerably less than their 1980s predecessors.

I find it remarkable that anyone can even pretend to believe that the country's just getting continually smarter. We're approaching 100% pass rates: does this mean my generation is the cleverest ever? of course it fucking doesn't. Evolution isn't that quick. (Note it doesn't mean we're stupid, either. The lack of a stretching test doesn't make the people who do well in the easy one any less bright - they simply get taught different stuff, and more about how to jump through the right hoops than about the topics concerned.)

Proof? Well, I was told that at one major university they've been giving biology students the same multi-choice fact only test every year since 1970something. The students who get As in A-level now get the same marks as the students who got cs or even ds twenty or thirty years ago.

It's not all bad. I for one think it's an admirable intention to make A-levels more about analysis and discussion than parrot-learned facts, which are ultimately less valuable than the skills of argument and thought which new A-levels are presumably meant to provide. But the style of the exam is so heavily prescribed now that there's very little room for teachers to teach as they wish, or for pupils to explore areas away from the main thrust of the syllabus; and the need to spend more time on exam technique takes away from time that could be spent on real discussion. A-levels are no longer any way for universities to distunguish between the excellent and the mediocre. This is certainly a Bad Thing. And let me reiterate - it doesn't mean that teachers or pupils are any worse than they were before. They just don't have any room to manoeuvre.

Grade inflation, is it fair? No it is not. Grade inflation is one of the most controversial topics in the University world. Not only is it a pain for students but difficult for lectures.

I am a student at the University of Sydney and at present am partaking in three subjects which involve an unfair grading scheme.

The first is a class created by myself and a few other friends. When it comes to grades however our tutor/lecturer refuses to mark us as she finds it too hard. This ultimately means WE the students must grade each other. This is fine except there is a known bias. So it doesn't even matter if the quality of your work is good, but it does depend on popularity. THIS IS WRONG!

The second class is even more ridiculous, they intend to fail you by only allowng 50% of the class pass. Once again is this fair? NO.

And the 3rd class pits normal students up against advanced students with the intent of failing students in order for those in the advanced stream to have a higher average, thus reflecting the university in a better way.

So the point of this write up is, GRADING A COURSE BY STUDENT POPULARITY IS WRONG! how does that promote a good education? It is not a measure of the students ability at all. Rate this if you agree.

In fact rate it even if you hate it.

This piece was written not only to voice my opinion but also because a subject title Collaborative Virtual Environments will fail me if I am not rated in the top 50%.

My education should not be a competition!

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