The giving of grades

part 2

I wrote this about Loyola Law School a while back over their grade inflation policy. Well why not just give everyone an A?

I read a couple of interesting things this morning that made me remember that event.

1. this comes from Inisde Higher Ed on Dean Dad’s Blog. It’s a discussion he had on pass rates. Too low or too high? –

For a college to try to improve its pass rates by lowering its standards will ultimately be self-defeating. Students rise, or fall, to meet expectations, and a devalued degree will be treated accordingly. The way to raise pass rates in an open-door institution is to arrange everything possible to help students help themselves, and to hold them to high standards.

He’s talking about undergrad programs, of course. I’ve always like this philosophy – let more people in to see who can actually do the work. If you can’t however, you are out!

2. Then there was this from the NYTimes with a more obvious connection to Loyola’s scandalous raising of grades. In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That

In the last two years, at least 10 law schools have deliberately changed their grading systems to make them more lenient. These include law schools likeNew York University and Georgetown, as well as Golden Gate University and Tulane University, which just announced the change this month. Some recruiters at law firms keep track of these changes and consider them when interviewing, and some do not.

Law schools seem to view higher grades as one way to rescue their students from the tough economic climate — and perhaps more to the point, to protect their own reputations and rankings. Once able to practically guarantee gainful employment to thousands of students every year, the schools are now fielding complaints from more and more unemployed graduates, frequently drowning in student debt.

I think I’ll throw up. What value do these transcripts have when the grades have been changed? Will a student suddenly rise to the top of their class because her grades were adjusted right along with everyone else’s?

OK, I know law school is hard. Everyone knows that. The thing is that grades are being given for unmerited work. What does it say to those that really are at the top of the class? the students who really made the A+ based on the original standards?

“For people like me who have good grades but are not in the super-elite, there are not as many options for getting a job in advance,” said Zachary Burd, 35, who just graduated from Southern Methodist University.

Nicely said. That’s just reality regardless of the field you are in. I just don’t see how inflating grades is going to mean there are suddenly more job options.

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5 thoughts on “The giving of grades

  1. I can’t agree more with you that raising grades as a direct consequence of the economic climate is really sickness inducing. In opposite to the final quote, I would say artificially inflated grades is the worst things to do for your graduates – it devalues even the best and makes everyone question the quality of your graduates.

    The right route is, as you say, always to open up the doors and let as many people in as possible but maintain high standards. If you can’t mean the standard, you shouldn’t be there. That’s academia and it should (and has to) be a meritocracy.

  2. I was supposed to have the results to our state testing back before now, but still nothing.

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