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Who Really Failed?


I absolutely love this story.

The biology professor at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge gives brief quizzes at the beginning of every class, to assure attendance and to make sure students are doing the reading. On her tests, she doesn’t use a curve, as she believes that students must achieve mastery of the subject matter, not just achieve more mastery than the worst students in the course. For multiple choice questions, she gives 10 possible answers, not the expected 4, as she doesn’t want students to get very far with guessing.

Students in introductory biology don’t need to worry about meeting her standards anymore. LSU removed her from teaching, mid-semester, and raised the grades of students in the class.

Later in the article, Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke University professor asked, “How many times has Dean Carman removed a professor from a class who was giving more than 90 percent As?” Check out his website, gradeinflation.com.

This is a big problem. By grading on participation rather than knowledge, teachers just pass the buck to the next teacher. Students go through school not really learning anything, but hey they have great self-wroth right? As a student, I see people that don’t know how to write a clear and concise paragraph on a discussion topic. We had a book report to do with two questions; Summarize and what did you learn. Some people couldn’t even do that much.

I think the problem is both school officials and students are lazy. Students don’t really care to actually learn. They are only there to get that piece of paper, so an employer will give them a job. They don’t want a grade they want their 3 credits. Think about this; education is the only service in which the consumers demand LESS for their money. School Administration doesn’t want anything to be too hard, because they know the next school is more than willing to grade on a curve and give those students their 3 credits. That way they can get put on the list of “good” schools and get more students and more importantly more government money.

I loved this chart from gradeinflation.com

Long Term Grade Inflation by School

See how high Harvard is up there? Does it come to no surprise then, that our Harvard elected officials in Government didn’t see the financial mess from happening?

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Categories: Academia
  1. yttik
    April 16, 2010 at 17:49

    I’ve been complaining about grade inflation for the longest time. I laughed not long ago, apparently some teachers are starting to rebel. My daughter was complaining because she finally got a math teacher that declared that you must get 90% to pass a test. I guess he believes that allows for two missed questions due to human error which is all anyone is entitled to. She was upset because everyone knows a 69% is the norm for passing. It struck me as kind of funny because that’s like a D- or something, which indeed now days qualifies as a passing grade. How depressing is that?

    What was funny and sad all at the same time, was all the parents outraged about how expecting a 90% was down right criminal. Indeed, I think I heard the word fascist tossed about.

    • April 20, 2010 at 06:48

      I think a lot of it comes from the sense of entitlement. Since we are “entitled” to an education, somehow that gets translated into everyone SHOULD pass, not everyone can learn to pass. Big distinction.

      How many teachers do you think would get fired, if all they gave were 100%?

  2. kenoshamarge
    April 19, 2010 at 05:01

    Once we “accept” passing as the only goal instead of “excelling” we are well down the road to mediocrity. Turning this educational mess around would require innovation, imagination and dedication. See any sign of any of that on the horizon? I don’t and would be overjoyed to hear that someone, somewhere does see some reason to hope that we will do “right” by our children. Praising our children for accomplishment is necessary. Even praising them for participating is fine with me. But praising them for passing when they could do better? Not acceptable.

    • April 20, 2010 at 06:56

      Well that’s the part that depends on parents. If the parents don’t care, or have been conditioned, then your going to have these kinds of problems. I think Parents are conditioned to think passing is good enough. But even the parents that do go the extra mile and demand A’s and B’s, how are they going to know that the A was based on horrendous curve (maybe the kids only got 72% right, but the class got on average a 38%?) or when the A was based on lowered expectations?

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