Skip to comments.The dangers of grade inflation for young America
Posted on 06/01/2012 8:10:58 PM PDT by chessplayer
Congratulations, young America, youve reached the threshold of academic perfection. Recent studies have shown that an A is now the MOST COMMON GRADE for college students in the United States. Its nice to know that my generation is so well educated. Or perhaps not. Based upon a mountain of contradictory evidence and the environment I see all around me as an American college student, I hesitate to declare victory too soon. When you dig deeper the facts show that grade inflation is what really fuels our college students higher GPAs, and A today might be equivalent to a C forty years ago.
Despite the outward appearances of academic perfection, todays students are not on an upward trajectory toward academic success. Last year, a USA Today report showed that college students make little academic progress in their first two years of college. In fact, 45 percent of students showed no significant gains, a figure which contradicts academias goal of educating students. College Students are more likely to focus on their social lives rather than their academic record. Professors caught up with their own research are less likely to pay attention to such habits. Additionally, students spend 50 percent less time studying now than they have in past decades.
You can’t charge 40K in tuition and give little Timmy a ‘C’. The parents will bitch. People are buying their kids a diploma.
One of my favorite movies is “The Paper Chase”. I loved the part where they holed up in the hotel room so they could write their paper without being bothered. That movie is about 40 years old.
Read that the first two college years are mostly remedial studies,,,teaching them what they should have learned in high school. The real college work doesn’t begin until their junior year.
I teach a lot of industrial technical classes. I can tell you that A may be the most common grade but the abilities I see don’t merit such.
1. I had an entire table of 6 engineers who could not even plug numbers into a formula and get the right answers. They didn’t know how to work within the parentheses first then add or do the other operations. WTF?
2. When the get the wrong answer their immediate conclusion is that I got the wrong answer. Never mind that I’ve taught this stuff and done this stuff for more decades than they have been alive.
3. Teaching test has left them vacant of reasoning ability. They want to know the answer to pass the test. Give them a problem and they melt.
I’m not encouraged for the future in more ways than one.
In my engineering classes, the professor included in his course syllibus the equations he used to normalize grades to a Bell curve. The average grade in that class was a “C”, mathematically derived from the scores of every test, quiz and homework assignment.
There were equal numbers of “D” grades as “B” grades, and the number of “F” grades equaled the number of “A” grades.
We had to bust our butts to get a “C”.
Over the years I have hired a few Timmy's ... I just gave them lower level jobs with much lower pay than they would have received had they increased their "gray matter" while in college. And generlly they advance through their career much more slowly as well. Over their lifetimes the cost to them must be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It reminds me of that movie that was made about the life of Bruce Lee when the lady who owned the restaurant told him, just before he went to college, that he could always drop out and and return to his job as a dish washer.
Some study showed that 80% of people think they are above average. It didn’t matter what was being measured. 80% of people think they are smarter than average, 80% of people think they are taller than average, 80% of people thing they are better looking than average, etc.
I teach a lot of industrial technical classes. I can tell you that A may be the most common grade but the abilities I see dont merit such.
Used to be a student could feel a real sense of accomplishment if they got an A. Now with almost everyone getting an A, it’s like “so what?”
First day of Introduction to Management, York College of Pennsylvania, 1978:
Prof: Would you agree that the grade of “C” means average?
Prof: Would you agree that most of you are average?
Prof: Therefore, most of you will receive “C” ‘s.
This is true in most colleges, and has even reached the top schools like UW Madison and UC Berkeley.
I have heard of courses where the professor “Skewed to the Left”- This is where more students failed than got A’s, and more D’s than B’s.
Oh, and if the A students didn’t get over 60% on the test, they got dropped to a “B” anyway (”C” for below 50%). Hardly anyone got an A in that course (Once in a 2 year occurrence). BTW, the average score was a 27%.
Without going into details, I work for a military base supporting the USAF. About 6 years ago, the base hired a bunch of "Engineering Technology" folks to do low level engineering work. These "Engineers" demonstrated the gifts you describe, and after "a bunch" of money was wasted, the base brought in some "Electrical Engineers" - who were able to solve the myrad of relatively simple problems within a year.
The 2-Star who ran this base, and several other bases in neighboring states isssued a directive - "Absolutely no hiring of Engineering Technology degreed personnel, regardless of experience level without his direct involvement".
This small group of incompetent "engineers" have ruined the chances of hundreds or thousands of other "Engineering Technology" degreed professionals from pursing a degree with the USAF.
Twenty years ago, I got an “A” in a course. That translates to a 4.0 getting averaged into the rest of my grades. That’s the highest grade you could get. I had gotten a 98% in the course, so I figured I should have gotten an “A++” and told the professor so. He had my grade changed to an “A++” in my transcript. It still only counted as a 4.0 though. I think he gave B+ to anyone who showed up.
“Some study showed that 80% of people think they are above average.”
Not me. I always called myself Medium Mears.
All those “mediums” have served me well over the years.
Dr. Myron at SDSU? He was my advisor - he took pride in washing engineers out.
Teachers like that are worse than useless. The tests were so convoluted and difficult that no one really had a chance of answering any single problem. You "shot-gunned" the 4 question test and hoped your partial credit would pass you.
All you would up doing was vomiting up formulae and derivations in the hope of guessing you were on the right path. Meanwhile, a student who happened to bypass this teacher actually LEARNED the topic of the course, passed the test and understood the what/why and when's of the various principles.
Is the Bell Curve at play ?
When I went to Ohio State for electrical engineering, they told us in orientation to look to your left and your right, and that only one of you three would make it through the program. They weren’t kidding. Talked to a recent gard - it’s still that way (although they do allow a bit more remdial math up front that does NOT count toward your major).
Old joke there: lim EE (GPA ->0) = business
Except now the business school rocks.
So there are still some REAL colleges...
I worked part-time as a math tutor while in college. It was ridiculous the number of people going for math-heavy majors who I had to teach junior-high-level math to.
One guy even seemed proud of the fact that he’d never learned to multiply or divide. He even tried to trick me into taking one of his tests for him!!!