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    #245034 - 03/15/19 12:10 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: ElizabethN]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5223
    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    "in my day, you had to get a 90% to get an A, and nowadays you can get an A with a 85%!"
    This is commonly called a grading scale, one aspect of an institution's grading system?

    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    Where I went to college, the exams were hard enough that you might get an A with a 50%
    Was this grading on a curve?

    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    ... I find the fixation on achievement in terms of percentage correct to be particularly pointless.
    I agree, and I do not find reference to percentage-correct in the definition which I posted or elsewhere in my post.

    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    I agree that we can't really have a meaningful discussion of grade inflation without some kind of agreement about what it is.
    Please feel free to share other definitions of Grade Inflation. Citations sourced from publications from the industry might be preferable, as they might tend to be somewhat more broadly utilized and/or accepted.

    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    But even if we agree to the quoted definition, that doesn't mean that any other publication that it discussing it is going to use the same standard.
    No need to agree to that particular definition. For example, dictionaries (including online dictionaries) often have multiple definitions for words, and these definitions may overlap to a degree and also may stretch the range of meaning in various directions. Having definition facilitates "translation" between word usage in various contexts.

    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    That makes it hard to cite evidence to support that it even is going on, let alone that it is a problem that needs to be solved.
    For purposes of these discussions it would seem that anecdotal evidence and empirical evidence may both be valuable in lending insight to what is occurring? The grading trends, practices, systems, scales, and inflation/deflation* may not be a monolith, and various individuals and groups may experience them differently.

    *Grade deflation mentioned in article which mckinley introduced and sought feedback on: article by Patrick Julius (March 2018).

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    #245035 - 03/15/19 12:15 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: mckinley]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 4034
    I had the same sense of shock when we started using a Singapore secondary math curriculum, and discovered that they used a grading scale similar to that of the UK. I did find it quite beneficial to shaping the perspective of my kiddo with perfectionist tendencies, though.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #245036 - 03/15/19 12:20 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: indigo]
    ElizabethN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    Originally Posted By: indigo
    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    Where I went to college, the exams were hard enough that you might get an A with a 50%
    Was this grading on a curve?

    Grading systems were not really fully disclosed to undergraduates, but I think that most classes used a curved system. Sometimes there were benchmarks that you had to achieve to be able to get a higher grade in addition or instead. When I was a teaching assistant in graduate school, the department was mandating a limit on the number of A's and B's assigned. The professor and I worked together to figure out how to allocate grades to individuals. I think that limit was fairly recent at the time that I was a TA, and I don't know what they do now.

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    #245038 - 03/15/19 12:28 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5223
    Here is another definition of Grade Inflation. This is from one of the external links in the article by Patrick Julius (March 2018):
    "...when a grade is viewed as being less rigorous than it ought to be" (Mullen, 1995, p29).
    I vacillated about posting this definition because it may be sufficiently nebulous as to be meaningless. Although it may have been meaningful to its intended audience, at that point in time (prior to Common Core).

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    #245040 - 03/15/19 12:50 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5223
    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    The purpose of grades is not to rank a group or track aggregate outcomes.
    This may have been true in the past, however mandated data collection tracks aggregate outcomes and ranks teachers and schools by the grades assigned to their pupils.

    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    The purpose is to assess the degree to which an individual student met the requirements of an individual assignment. A side effect is that sorting and ranking can take place.
    Agreed...
    Originally Posted By: indigo
    If one expected grades to sort/rate/rank a group of individuals by relative degree of knowledge in a topic, then grade inflation (if it occurred) would be a problem.


    mckinley, in your post upthread, you assigned to me a fabricated viewpoint and then argued against it... strawman.
    This post serves to take the high road in addressing that, so the conversation about the article you sought input on may move forward.

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    #245042 - 03/15/19 01:13 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: Bostonian]
    mckinley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/03/18
    Posts: 114
    You switched premises there from ranking students (knowledge of a subject) to ranking teachers (job performance).

    Other than collecting data, how would you suggest schools determine which reforms are successful and which aren't? Yes, if that data is part of performance evaluations of individuals, then it could be gamed. That seems to assume that the majority of educators are unethical, and that there aren't people employed to identify and minimize those risks.

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    #245043 - 03/15/19 01:48 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: mckinley]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5223
    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    You switched premises there from ranking students (knowledge of a subject) to ranking teachers (job performance).
    Au contraire. You responded to a phrase, taken out of context of the full sentence:
    Originally Posted By: indigo
    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    The purpose of grades is not to rank a group or track aggregate outcomes.
    This may have been true in the past, however mandated data collection tracks aggregate outcomes and ranks teachers and schools by the grades assigned to their pupils.

    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    which reforms are successful and which aren't
    In the context of your post, what do you mean by successful? Equal outcomes?

    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    assess the degree to which an individual student met the requirements of an individual assignment
    ...
    data...could be gamed
    Yes, the assignment of grades can be gamed by various grading practices intended to report equal outcomes, including differentiated task demands. (Consider the impact of "differentiated task demands" on a teacher's ability to "assess the degree to which an individual student met the requirements of an individual assignment.")

    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    people employed to identify and minimize those risks
    What title/role might fulfill this function of assuring there is no gaming of the grading system?

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    #245058 - 03/17/19 10:13 AM Re: College grade inflation [Re: mckinley]
    philly103 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/02/17
    Posts: 95
    Originally Posted By: mckinley
    You switched premises there from ranking students (knowledge of a subject) to ranking teachers (job performance).

    Other than collecting data, how would you suggest schools determine which reforms are successful and which aren't? Yes, if that data is part of performance evaluations of individuals, then it could be gamed. That seems to assume that the majority of educators are unethical, and that there aren't people employed to identify and minimize those risks.


    I thought the article you linked raised solid points. In assessing the question of grade inflation, it is important to assess if the courses being taught are harder, if the kids are more capable, better prepared, etc.

    I think the obsession with "equal outcomes" is misplaced as applied to the classroom. For the most part, teachers should be striving towards equal outcomes. In that they want all of their students to equally master the class curriculum.

    The point of school, at the lowest levels, is not to weed out the weak from the strong but to educate the group. To decry "equal outcomes" in an individual classroom would be akin to arguing that we should be striving to fail kids simply so that we can say "See, not all kids are equally strong in this". The difference in ability should present itself in parallel assessing tools - state exams, standardized tests, etc. The classroom's goal should be equal outcomes.

    Of course, it can be taken too far - which is where legitimate concerns about grade inflation come from. Are more kids getting As because the teaching has improved or because the course covers less rigorous material than before. But again, that's where larger assessment tools figure in and the question of the course goal.

    In high school algebra, the teacher wants everyone to get an A. However, in Intro to Criminal Procedure, the law professor is going to make sure that only a set number of students do. I think people sometimes forget that school is for education and not a competition.

    And, yes, I realize that the thread is titled college grade inflation but I think the misplaced concerns go beyond the college classroom.


    Edited by philly103 (03/17/19 10:28 AM)

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    #245059 - 03/17/19 12:02 PM Re: College grade inflation [Re: philly103]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5223
    Originally Posted By: philly103
    For the most part, teachers should be striving towards equal outcomes. In that they want all of their students to equally master the class curriculum.
    Because your post specified educational levels other than college, I will share the following -
    Originally Posted By: Accelerate Illinois
    ... recent research from Johns Hopkins University... The study’s authors estimate that 20 to 40 percent of elementary and middle school students perform at least one grade level above their current grade in reading and 11 to 30 percent score at least one grade level above in math.
    For the 11 to 40 percent of students who have already mastered the class material and are performing at least one grade level above their current grade...
    a goal of "equal outcomes" translates to no growth for these pupils, while the remainder of grade level cohort catches up.
    In this age of "equal outcomes" many gifted pupils experience their growth being capped.

    To the degree that teachers/schools/programs may be rated/ranked based on generating grades which report "equal outcomes" some pupils in a class may experience stagnant growth while other pupils in the same class may experience grade inflation.

    This may occur at college/university levels where inbound, formative, and summative (outbound) assessments may be conducted.

    Originally Posted By: philly103
    To decry "equal outcomes" in an individual classroom would be akin to arguing that we should be striving to fail kids...
    Seeing the goal of grades which report "equal outcomes" as being flawed is NOT the same as striving to fail kids. Some may say that an appropriate goal for grades is to provide honest and meaningful feedback on a student's grasp of the material.

    Originally Posted By: philly103
    The classroom's goal should be equal outcomes.
    Some may say the classroom's goal should be one term's growth for each pupil and/or an honest measurement of growth for that pupil throughout the term.

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    #245063 - 03/18/19 05:02 AM Re: College grade inflation [Re: indigo]
    philly103 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/02/17
    Posts: 95
    Originally Posted By: indigo
    Originally Posted By: philly103
    For the most part, teachers should be striving towards equal outcomes. In that they want all of their students to equally master the class curriculum.
    Because your post specified educational levels other than college, I will share the following -
    Originally Posted By: Accelerate Illinois
    ... recent research from Johns Hopkins University... The study’s authors estimate that 20 to 40 percent of elementary and middle school students perform at least one grade level above their current grade in reading and 11 to 30 percent score at least one grade level above in math.
    For the 11 to 40 percent of students who have already mastered the class material and are performing at least one grade level above their current grade...
    a goal of "equal outcomes" translates to no growth for these pupils, while the remainder of grade level cohort catches up.
    In this age of "equal outcomes" many gifted pupils experience their growth being capped.


    I'm not talking solely about advanced kids. I talking about education in general. Also, it's irrelevant that 20-40% of kids are performing above grade level (which is still a minority of the class). That doesn't change the goal of the teachers regarding educating their students.

    That information is relevant to creating a broader range of classes for students to reflect the broad range of abilities or to the importance of acceleration but not to point I was making.

    A school should have better class groupings so that advanced kids can take classes with similar level peers. Not that schools should raise the rigor of regular classes at the expense of the other students.

    Originally Posted By: indigo
    To the degree that teachers/schools/programs may be rated/ranked based on generating grades which report "equal outcomes" some pupils in a class may experience stagnant growth while other pupils in the same class may experience grade inflation.

    This may occur at college/university levels where inbound, formative, and summative (outbound) assessments may be conducted.


    That might true but it's not relevant to my point about the goal of the classroom

    The problem is not "equal outcomes" but insufficient range of choices for different skill level students. It's stupid to expect a 5th grade math class to teach 7th grade math just because a minority percentage of the students can handle it. Those students should be allowed to attend the 7th grade math class instead of forcing the the kids who can only manage 5th grade math to struggle with concepts beyond them.

    Originally Posted By: indigo
    Seeing the goal of grades which report "equal outcomes" as being flawed is NOT the same as striving to fail kids. Some may say that an appropriate goal for grades is to provide honest and meaningful feedback on a student's grasp of the material.

    Sure, the goal of grades is to provide meaningful feedback on a student's grasp of the material, i.e. the curriculum. And the teachers' goal is to ensure that all students fully grasp the material, i.e. the curriculum. Teachers want "equal outcomes" because it means that all of the students have learned the material.

    Your concern about equal outcomes seems predicated on the idea that teachers should not want all of their 5th graders to grasp the 5th grade curriculum solely because there are some kids who are capable of grasping more.

    The students capable of more should move on to classrooms delivering more instead of assigning a negative framework to teachers doing what teachers are supposed to do - helping all students master the curriculum for that class.

    Originally Posted By: indigo
    Some may say the classroom's goal should be one term's growth for each pupil and/or an honest measurement of growth for that pupil throughout the term.


    Most would say that the classroom's goal is to impart the curriculum to the class. When the student has mastered the curriculum the student should move to a different classroom.

    It seems more like a sense of misunderstanding between a class curriculum and private instruction. A classroom should have a curriculum, students should learn the curriculum. Teachers should make sure that all students learn the same curriculum - your "equal outcomes". When the student has finished the curriculum, the student should change to a new curriculum. The teacher should not stop focusing on teaching the curriculum to the other students who still need to finish it.

    We all have gifted kids, I assume. I don't expect the school to stop teaching the other kids basic math just because my kid is beyond the material. Nor do I expect the classroom to roll at my kid's level because then no one else would learn anything. I expect the school to find a way to accommodate my kid without sacrificing its responsibility to the other students - which is to make sure that all of the kids equally master the core curriculum, the necessary "equal outcome".

    But that's my take. I think the education of all the kids is equally important and you don't denigrate teaching the masses just because of the existence of outliers. You find a way to accommodate the outlier.

    You are, of course, entitled to view it differently.

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