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robertogreco : gradeinflation   10

Is grade inflation just another way for privileged kids to get ahead? — Quartz
"He found the median grade point average (GPA) rose in all schools. But it rose by 0.27 points in affluent schools, compared to just 0.17 points in less affluent ones. On average, students who scored higher on the end-of-course exams also earned higher grades. But plenty of kids with good grades did poorly on the exam; more than one-third of the students who received B’s from their teachers in Algebra 1 failed to get a “proficient” score on the end-of-term exam.

Gershenson can’t say for sure why this has happened but he suspects that it’s because parents of privilege are not afraid to wield it. “Wealthier parents have more time and more confidence to be pushy and to challenge teachers, either proactively or reactively,” he said. They might argue to get a B turned into an A, or teachers may sense the threat of overbearing parents and be more lenient to avoid confrontation.

One possible explanation for this phenomenon could be that students at better-resourced schools become more engaged, and thus improve their performance and get higher grades. But Gershenson controlled for attendance levels, often used as a proxy for engagement, and found the same outcomes. That suggests a boost for those better off, which may in turn influence their college acceptances and future careers."



"So what should be done about the troubling relationship between grade inflation and wealth? For one thing, Gershenson recommends that schools keep using both grades and test scores to assess students, since they measure such different things. In addition, he says it’s important to let teachers, principals, and colleges know that poorer kids’ grades may not have not been as inflated as their richer peers. One idea? A grade deflator tool, similar to a GDP deflator, to account for the discrepancy. “That might help students and parents and colleges make better decisions,” he says."
gradeinflation  2018  wealth  inequality  education  schools  grades  grading  sethgershenson 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Why I Don't Grade | Jesse Stommel
"I've long argued education should be about encouraging and rewarding not knowing more than knowing. When I give presentatiatons on grading and assessment, I often get some variation of the question: “How would you want your doctor to have been assessed?” My cheeky first answer is that I want the system to assure my doctor has read all the books of Jane Austen, because critical thinking is what will help them save my life when they encounter a situation they've never encountered before. I go on to say that I would want a mixture of things assessed and a mixture of kinds of assessment, because the work of being a doctor (or engineer, sociologist, teacher, etc.) is sufficiently complex that any one system of measurement or indicator of supposed mastery will necessarily fail.

There are lots of alternatives to traditional assessment and ways to approach ungrading, which I'll explore further in a future post. In some ways, I am withholding the mechanics of ungrading deliberately here, because I agree with Alfie Kohn who writes, “When the how’s of assessment preoccupy us, they tend to chase the why’s back into the shadows.” Grades are not something we should have ever allowed to be naturalized. Assessment should be, by its nature, an open question."
jessestommel  grades  grading  assessment  2017  syllabus  alfiekohn  cathydavidson  collaboration  learning  howwelearn  teaching  howweteach  sfsh  rubrics  motivation  participation  lauragibbs  objectivity  gradeinflation  outcomes  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  syllabi 
october 2017 by robertogreco
There’s nothing wrong with grade inflation - The Washington Post
"Even where grades can be useful, as in describing what material a student has mastered, they are remarkably crude instruments. Yes, the student who gets a 100 on a calculus exam probably grasps the material better than the student with a 60 — but only if she retains the knowledge, which grades can’t show.

Meanwhile, I’ve taught humanities subjects for 15 years, and I still can’t say very well what separates a B from an A. What’s more, I never see the kind of incompetence or impudence that would merit a D or an F. And now, in our grade-inflated world, it’s even harder to use grades to motivate, or give feedback, or send a signal to future employers or graduate schools.

We need to move to a post-grading world. Maybe that means a world where there are no grades — or one where, if they remain, we rely more on better kinds of evaluation.

Employers, faced with crushes of applicants with A averages, already depend on other factors in evaluating them. According to a 2012 study by the Chronicle of Higher Education, GPA was seventh out of eight factors employers considered in hiring, behind internships, extracurricular activities and previous employment. Last year, Stanford’s registrar told the Chronicle about “a clamor” from employers “for something more meaningful” than the traditional transcript. The Lumina Foundation gave a$1.27 million grant to two organizations for college administrators working to develop better student records, with grades only one part of a student’s final profile.

Some graduate schools, too, have basically ditched grades. “As long as you don’t bomb and flunk out, grades don’t matter very much in M.F.A. programs,” the director of one creative-writing program told the New York Times. To top humanities PhD programs, letters of reference and writing samples matter more than overall GPA (although students are surely expected to have received good grades in their intended areas of study). In fact, it’s impossible to get into good graduate or professional schools without multiple letters of reference, which have come to function as the kind of rich, descriptive comments that could go on transcripts in place of grades. Right now, students end up being evaluated twice: once with an inflated and meaningless letter grade, then again by teachers asked to write letters of recommendation.

In 2013, Forbes interviewed career-services directors at four top schools: Brandeis, NYU, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Purdue. They said employers want a GPA of 3.0 or even 3.5. But again, that standard would include almost every Harvard student — which suggests that GPAs serve not to validate students from elite schools but to keep out those from less-prestigious schools and large public universities, where grades are less inflated. Grades at community colleges “have actually dropped” over the years, according to Stuart Rojstaczer, a co-author of the 2012 grade-inflation study. That means we have two systems: one for students at elite schools, who get jobs based on references, prestige and connections, and another for students everywhere else, who had better maintain a 3.0. Grades are a tool increasingly deployed against students without prestige.

Since the elite schools clearly won’t fix their grading scales, the rest should ditch grades, moving toward more nuanced transcripts with comments.

Right now, some institutions already teach students well without grades — they are rarified, expensive places, such as St. Ann’s, a private school in Brooklyn; Hampshire College; and Yale School of Medicine. Rachel Rubinstein, a literature professor and dean at Hampshire College, who helps train new faculty members to use its system of evaluating students, said that it takes her a full two weeks after the term ends to finish writing comments, which run about a half-page, single-spaced, per student. “It’s not like writing a recommendation, where you frame everything as a positive,” Rubinstein says. “They can be very frank.”

Students can compare evaluations from different classes, too, “read across all of them, see what they need improvement on.” And when they graduate, they — and employers or grad-school admission offices — get far more than a printed page of grades. “Our transcripts are kind of a beast — it’s like reading 25 recommendation letters,” Rubinstein says.

The trouble is that, while it’s relatively easy for smaller colleges to go grade-free, with their low student-to-teacher ratios, it’s tough for professors at larger schools, who must evaluate more students, more quickly, with fewer resources. And adjuncts teaching five classes for poverty wages can’t write substantial term-end comments, so grades are a necessity if they want to give any feedback at all.

But perhaps the small, progressive colleges can inspire other schools to follow, as they have in, say, abolishing the SAT as an admissions requirement — once it was a few schools like Hampshire, now it’s hundreds more. A change in grading would be even harder. It would mean hiring more teachers and paying them better (which schools should do anyway). And if transcripts become more textured, graduate-school admission offices and employers will have to devote more resources to reading them, and to getting to know applicants through interviews and letters of reference — a salutary trend that is underway already.

* * * * *

When I think about getting rid of grades, I think of happier students, with whom I have more open, democratic relationships. I think about being forced to pay more attention to the quiet ones, since I’ll have to write something truthful about them, too. I’ve begun to wonder if a world without grades may be one of those states of affairs (like open marriages, bicycle lanes and single-payer health care) that Americans resist precisely because they seem too good, suspiciously good. Nothing worth doing is supposed to come easy.

Alfie Kohn, too, sees ideology at work in the grade-inflation panic. “Most of what powers the arguments against grade inflation is a very right-wing idea that excellence consists in beating everyone else around you,” he says. “Even when you have sorted them — even when they get to Harvard! — we have to sort them again.” In other words, we can trust only a system in which there are clear winners and losers.

Even in my Yale classrooms filled with overachievers, most of whom want to learn for the sake of learning, some respond well to the clarity of a grade. And it’s true that if all schools got rid of grades tomorrow, the immediate result would be to worsen inequality: I’d give rich comments to my Yale students, while my overworked peers at cash-strapped state colleges would give a sentence or two to each of their hundreds of pupils.

But grade inflation, and thus grades’ diminishing importance, is real. The question is whether we can see in this trend something better."
markoppenheimer  grades  grading  gradeinflation  2016  democracy  assessment  highered  highereducation  alfiekohn  ideology  education  teaching  learning 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Marc Tucker and the declension myth in American education debates
"It is a tempting story, because it is easier to argue that we have declined from some better point in the past than to explain consistently middling results. But it is the consistency of middling results that is the true history, and there never was a golden age of education in the United States. Tucker’s purported history is pulled from thin air and is wrong on several key points:

• Child poverty and family decline: Child poverty rates declined in the years when divorce was becoming more common (look at the 1960s and 1970s in the poverty-by-age chart from this source). Teen birth rates have declined dramatically in the past quarter-century, and there is pretty good survey evidence that there are other improving trends in risky behaviors for teenagers.3 We should be ashamed at the level of child poverty that exists, but that is a continuing issue rather than something that has dramatically increased in the past 50 years.4

• Grade inflation in high school from parental pressures: There is relatively little peer-reviewed research on high school grade inflation. One 2013 article used transcript data from several national longitudinal studies. Based on transcripts, the authors argue that there has been grade inflation at the secondary level since the early 1970s but that there has not been a huge change in the inferred meaning of grade differences–i.e., if there has been grade inflation, we may not need to be worried about it as a motivator or signal of achievement.

• Grade inflation and lowered standards in college: Tucker’s chronology is all wrong here: if there has been grade inflation in college (see a 2012 article in Teachers College Record), the bulk of the decline in C and D grades happened between the early 1960s and the mid-1970s, with more stable grading patterns for the following 15 years and then a different pattern of inflation since 1990. This does not fit with Tucker’s story: the end of the baby boom hit colleges in the grade-inflation lull, and grade inflation continued during the baby-boom echo’s “traditional age” college years, when the incentives should have reversed.5 Caveat: the 2013 article linked above claims that there is much less evidence of grade inflation in colleges than in high schools.6

• No Child Left Behind pushed states to lower standards for high school students and diverted energy from the standards movement: The mandated test grades in NCLB were 3-8, with one grade in high school (selected by the state). I may be wrong, but my strong impression is that in the years after NCLB’s enactment, most states were obsessed with elementary and middle school accountability much more than in high schools. While many states may have set the proficiency thresholds low because of NCLB, it is hard to argue that most states had accountability systems with higher expectations before NCLB and suddenly dropped those expectations. More to Tucker’s claim about diversion, it is hard to find a proponent of what he calls the standards movement in the late 1990s who was not in favor of NCLB in 2001. Many self-identified reformers have since backed away from NCLB, and we are seeing further backpedaling from Race to the Top with this spring’s test fiascoes. But as Paul Manna and others have written, at the time NCLB was a consensual policy change for those who called themselves as education reformers. If high-stakes testing is a diversion from standards, it was one fully endorsed by the bulk of those in the 1990s standards movement.

• A decline in the status of teachers: In every era, American teachers have been the target of criticism. See Dana Goldstein‘s The Teacher Wars for a recent book on the topic.

• Declining quality of teachers and enrollments in colleges of education: It is hard to parse out the relationship between greater job opportunities for college-educated women and college grads of color, which shrank the pool of potential teachers, and the greater numbers of college attendees with the baby boom, which expanded the pool of potential teachers. The decline in teacher education programs is very recent, essentially since the Great Recession, and is hard to put into a story of declining standards across decades.

• Declining vocational education: The late W. Norton Grubb was brutally honest about the historical failures of vocational education, from its uses in discriminatory tracking to the weak evidence of effectiveness in recent decades. Grubb and Marvin Lazerson’s The Education Gospel (2007) is the right source for this topic. The point is not that one has to agree with Grubb and Lazerson’s policy prescriptions, but that even in a narrow area such as vocational education, there has never been a golden age.

In the past few years, my morale about education policy has been boosted moderately by more recognition of history in education policy discussions, especially in Washington, DC. I thought the major inside-the-Beltway players understood that Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars was mandatory reading, and also possibly Rick Hess’s The Same Thing Over and Over. So let me just put it out there more generally, as the object lesson from Tucker’s columns this month: if you are tempted to argue that there was a golden age of education, you have not read enough education history."
shermandorn  2015  education  history  policy  reform  edreform  nclb  danagoldstein  teaching  teachers  poverty  grades  grading  assessment  gradeinflation  divorce  pedagogy  curriculum  narrative  vocationaleducation  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  schools  publicschools  learning  us  rickhess  marctucker 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Open Letter from a Millennial: Quit Telling Us We’re Not Special
"You have done our work for us, then called us lazy.
You have threatened our teachers, then told us “just an A” isn’t good enough.
You have gotten our jobs for us, and called us underachievers.
You have recorded everything we do, like researchers breeding a better mouse.
You have made us trophy-seekers, then mocked us for our walls of worthless awards.
You have pitted us against each other in a fight for success, which has become survival.
You have given us a world in which even our college degrees are meaningless because there are just too many of us.
You have made us depend on you. When we followed your instructions… we’ve ended up stuck in your basement because nobody in your generation is willing to pay us a living wage.
Then you called us the “boomerang” generation that refuses to grow up. When did we have the chance?"
upbringing  education  boomeranggeneration  work  jobs  recession  underachievement  laziness  specialness  self-esteem  gradeinflation  survival  parenting  babyboomers  boomers  generationy  generations  dependency  helicopterparenting  helicopterparents  2012  millennials 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Chapel Hill Campus Takes On Grade Inflation - NYTimes.com
"“It’s complicated, it’s controversial, and it runs into campus political opposition from all sorts of directions you might not anticipate,” Mr. Nassirian said, adding that transcripts with too much extra information can become unwieldy.

Studies of grade inflation have found that private universities generally give higher grades than public ones, and that humanities courses award higher grades than science and math classes.

Mr. Perrin’s concern with grading standards began 15 years ago, when he was a teaching assistant at the University of California, Berkeley.

“I would grade papers, run the grades by the professor and then give them out, and long lines of students would appear outside my office to say I graded too hard,” Mr. Perrin said. Now, at North Carolina, Mr. Perrin is convinced that grading problems are pervasive."
grades  grading  gradeinflation  highereducation  highered  teaching  economics  assessment  transcipts  gpa  2010  unc  education  learning  evaluation 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Imagining College Without Grades :: Inside Higher Ed
"Many said they assumed that it was politically impossible to eliminate grades. But they heard from educators at colleges that have done so and survived to tell the tale. And notably, they heard from colleges offering evidence that the elimination of grades — if they are replaced with narrative evaluations, rubrics, and clear learning goals — results in more accountability and better ways for a colleges to measure the success not only of students but of its academic programs."
grading  grades  assessment  teaching  learning  universities  colleges  tcsnmy  change  policy  gradeinflation  education  pedagogy  accreditation 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Times Higher Education - All the privileged must have prizes
"the sedulous banality of the rich degrades teaching into a service-class preoccupation whose chief duty is preparing clients for monied careers...If youth is wasted on the young, is teaching wasted on students?"
education  harvard  finance  academia  teaching  culture  gradeinflation  privilege  money  via:preoccupations  wisdom  youth  greed  elite  society  colleges  universities 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Essay: On the Uses of a Liberal Education (As Lite Entertainment For Bored College Students)
by Mark Edmundson at the University of Virginia (Harper's September 1997)

"For someone growing up in America now, there are few available alternatives to the cool consumer worldview. My students didn't ask for that view, much less create it, but they bring a consumer weltanschauung to school, where it exerts a powerful, and largely unacknowledged, influence."

[…]

"It's not that some aren't nearly as bright -- in terms of intellectual ability, my students are all that I could ask for. Instead, it's that Joon Lee has decided to follow his interests and let them make him into a singular and rather eccentric man; in his charming way, he doesn't mind being at odds with most anyone.

It's his capacity for enthusiasm that sets Joon apart from what I've come to think of as the reigning generational style. Whether the students are sorority/fraternity types, grunge aficionados, piercer/tattooers, black or white, rich or middle class (alas, I teach almost no students from truly poor backgrounds), they are, nearly across the board, very, very self-contained. On good days they display a light, appealing glow; on bad days, shuffling disgruntlement. But there's little fire, little passion to be found.

[…]

"Most of my students seem desperate to blend in, to look right, not to make a spectacle of themselves. (Do I have to tell you that those two students having the argument under the portico turned out to be acting in a role-playing game?) The specter of the uncool creates a subtle tyranny. It's apparently an easy standard to subscribe to, this Letterman-like, Tarantinolike cool, but once committed to it, you discover that matters are rather different. You're inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing emotion, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. You're made to feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code will get you genially ostracized. This is a culture tensely committed to a laid-back norm."

[…]

"What they will not generally do, though, is indict the current system. They won't talk about how the exigencies of capitalism lead to a reserve army of the unemployed and nearly inevitable misery. That would be getting too loud, too brash. For the pervading view is the cool consumer perspective, where passion and strong admiration are forbidden. "To stand in awe of nothing, Numicus, is perhaps the one and only thing that can make a man happy and keep him so," says Horace in the Epistles, and I fear that his lines ought to hang as a motto over the university in this era of high consumer capitalism.

It's easy to mount one's high horse and blame the students for this state of affairs. But they didn't create the present culture of consumption. (It was largely my own generation, that of the Sixties, that let the counterculture search for pleasure devolve into a quest for commodities.) And they weren't the ones responsible, when they were six and seven and eight years old, for unplugging the TV set from time to time or for hauling off and kicking a hole through it. It's my generation of parents who sheltered these students, kept them away from the hard knocks of everyday life, making them cautious and overfragile, who demanded that their teachers, from grade school on, flatter them endlessly so that the kids are shocked if their college profs don't reflexively suck up to them.

Of course, the current generational style isn't simply derived from culture and environment. It's also about dollars. Students worry that taking too many chances with their educations will sabotage their future prospects. They're aware of the fact that a drop that looks more and more like one wall of the Grand Canyon separates the top economic tenth from the rest of the population. There's a sentiment currently abroad that if you step aside for a moment, to write, to travel, to fall too hard in love, you might lose position permanently. We may be on a conveyor belt, but it's worse down there on the filth-strewn floor. So don't sound off, don't blow your chance."

[…]

"Teachers who really do confront students, who provide significant challenges to what they believe, can be very successful, granted. But sometimes such professors generate more than a little trouble for themselves. A controversial teacher can send students hurrying to the deans and the counselors, claiming to have been offended. ("Offensive" is the preferred term of repugnance today, just as "enjoyable" is the summit of praise.) Colleges have brought in hordes of counselors and deans to make sure that everything is smooth, serene, unflustered, that everyone has a good time. To the counselor, to the dean, and to the university legal squad, that which is normal, healthy, and prudent is best.

An air of caution and deference is everywhere. When my students come to talk with me in my office, they often exhibit a Franciscan humility. "Do you have a moment?" "I know you're busy. I won't take up much of your time." Their presences tend to be very light; they almost never change the temperature of the room. The dress is nondescript: clothes are in earth tones; shoes are practical -- cross-trainers, hiking boots, work shoes, Dr. Martens, with now and then a stylish pair of raised-sole boots on one of the young women. Many, male and female both, peep from beneath the bills of monogrammed baseball caps. Quite a few wear sports, or even corporate, logos, sometimes on one piece of clothing but occasionally (and disconcertingly) on more. The walk is slow; speech is careful, sweet, a bit weary, and without strong inflection. (After the first lively week of the term, most seem far in debt to sleep.) They are almost unfailingly polite. They don't want to offend me; I could hurt them, savage their grades.

Naturally, there are exceptions, kids I chat animatedly with, who offer a joke, or go on about this or that new CD (almost never a book, no). But most of the traffic is genially sleepwalking. I have to admit that I'm a touch wary, too. I tend to hold back. An unguarded remark, a joke that's taken to be off-color, or simply an uncomprehended comment can lead to difficulties. I keep it literal. They scare me a little, these kind and melancholy students, who themselves seem rather frightened of their own lives.

Before they arrive, we ply the students with luscious ads, guaranteeing them a cross between summer camp and lotusland. When they get here, flattery and nonstop entertainment are available, if that's what they want. And when they leave? How do we send our students out into the world? More and more, our administrators call the booking agents and line up one or another celebrity to usher the graduates into the millennium. This past spring, Kermit the Frog won himself an honorary degree at Southampton College on Long Island; Bruce Willis and Yogi Berra took credentials away at Montclair State; Arnold Schwarzenegger scored at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. At Wellesley, Oprah Winfrey gave the commencement address. (Wellesley -- one of the most rigorous academic colleges in the nation.) At the University of Vermont, Whoopi Goldberg laid down the word. But why should a worthy administrator contract the likes of Susan Sontag, Christopher Hitchens, or Robert Hughes -- someone who might actually say something, something disturbing, something offensive" -- when he can get what the parents and kids apparently want and what the newspapers will softly commend -- more lire entertainment, more TV?"

[…]

"My students' answers didn't exhibit any philosophical resistance to the idea of greatness. It's not that they had been primed by their professors with complex arguments to combat genius. For the truth is that these students don't need debunking theories. Long before college, skepticism became their habitual mode. They are the progeny of Bart Simpson and David Letterman, and the hyper-cool ethos of the box. It's inane to say that theorizing professors have created them, as many conservative critics like to do. Rather, they have substantially created a university environment in which facile skepticism can thrive without being substantially contested."

[…]

"Perhaps it would be a good idea to try firing the counselors and sending half the deans back into their classrooms, dismantling the football team and making the stadium into a playground for local kids, emptying the fraternities, and boarding up the student-activities office. Such measures would convey the message that American colleges are not northern outposts of Club Med. A willingness on the part of the faculty to defy student conviction and affront them occasionally -- to be usefully offensive -- also might not be a bad thing. We professors talk a lot about subversion, which generally means subverting the views of people who never hear us talk or read our work. But to subvert the views of our students, our customers, that would be something else again.

Ultimately, though, it is up to individuals -- and individual students in particular -- to make their own way against the current sludgy tide. There's still the library, still the museum, there's still the occasional teacher who lives to find things greater than herself to admire. There are still fellow students who have not been cowed. Universities are inefficient, cluttered, archaic places, with many unguarded comers where one can open a book or gaze out onto the larger world and construe it freely. Those who do as much, trusting themselves against the weight of current opinion, will have contributed something to bringing this sad dispensation to an end. As for myself, I'm canning my low-key one-liners; when the kids' TV-based tastes come to the fore, I'll aim and shoot. And when it's time to praise genius, I'll try to do it in the right style, full-out, with faith that finer artistic spirits (maybe not Homer and Isaiah quite, but close, close), still alive somewhere in the ether, will help me out when my invention flags, the students doze, or the dean mutters into the phone. I'm getting back to a more exuberant style; I'll be expostulating and … [more]
learning  education  society  subversion  teaching  liberaleducation  unschooling  deschooling  highereducation  highered  colleges  universities  markedmundson  alternative  cv  counterculture  capitalism  apathy  passion  challenge  grades  grading  gradeinflation  consumption  consumerism  conformity  culture  marketing  admissions  cynicism  offensive  enjoyable  clubmed  davidletterman  bartsimpson  middlemanagement  thesimpsons  1997  libraries 
january 2005 by robertogreco

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