Skip to comments.Confession of an Ivy League teaching assistant: Here’s why I inflated grades
Posted on 07/07/2014 9:47:37 AM PDT by TigerClaws
he revelation that the median grade at Harvard is an A- prompted lots of discussion, especially among Ivy-league educated journalists. Some speculated high grades reflect intelligence. Others say professors just want their students to get jobs, or, selfishly, they want favorable teaching evaluations. As a teaching assistant in the economics department at Columbia, I too inflated student grades, but for none of those reasons. +
I just didnt want to deal with all the complaining.
(Excerpt) Read more at qz.com ...
Apparently in the Ivy league you pass just by showing up, actually attempting to turn in work gives you an A
He should have given them what they deserved. When these students get into the REAL WORLD, their bosses won't 'inflate' their salaries or massage their egos. The students are getting set up for failure......................
Back in the 50s, when I went to Harvard, they were still giving a “Gentleman’s C” to students in some courses for showing up and doing the basic work, but I think the inflation started back then, or certainly in the 60s.
Students at top universities are used to being at the top of their class. Always were the best and brightest,most talented, most accomplished and most praised. Then the get to Harvard or such and find out that everybody else is also brilliant and they are just one of the crowd. It takes a whole lot more to stand out.
Set up for failure?
Look at our current President.
Most of them will go to their family connected do nothing job and get well paid for acting important.
Society is being set up for failure.
Kerry's GPA at Yale was very similar to Bush's and probably for the same reason--both were heavily involved in extra-curricular activities and having fun, rather than doing the best they could in their courses. Of course the media never drew the conclusion that Kerry was dumb.
As an adjunct faculty, I did not want to deal with deans who would make a failing student redo a paper and have me grade it again (as if the first time wasn’t painful enough) for no extra pay.
At many private colleges, professors are rated by their students rather than their research. How do you imagine hat affects grades? Ask any professor about the lousy students in class who complain that their grades were “unfair.”
Case in point................
That coupled with alleged educators who have abdicated all responsibility for making judgements on how much a student has learned for a variety of reasons -- they don't want to deal with the hassle of students complaining, they don't feel they can judge others, etc.
Its part and parcel with the decline of our country. No one is held to account or judged by objective standards anymore.
I said, "Oh, that explains it. Thanks".
As I turned to go, he asked, "Aren't you going to argue? Complain? Go to the department head?"
I replied, "No. It's your class. It's your scale. Those are your rules. As long as it applies to everyone, I have nothing to complain about. Thanks again."
This actually happened to me twice, with different professors. Yet it let's me know that my degree is actually worth something, and wasn't simply handed to me because my liberal parents could foot the bill at Princeton or Harvard.
Btw, the angry girl in the picture accompanying the article should be the poster child for Liberalism in America today. Angry, self-righteous, entitled.
It's a little more complicated than that.
I was acquainted with the dean of admissions to the graduate school at a highly ranked university. His job was to sort through seven thousand applications from top students throughout the world and to say "no" to six thousand of them.
Assuming that the dean's ability to identify top students was at least somewhat related to the students' abilities, then the university would end up with the top fraction of available students.
Most of these students are going to be extremely hard-working and very intelligent students. Many will have come through high school and earned their bachelors degrees without ever having earned a grade less than an "A".
During their years at the university, some of the students will simply stop working at their courses. These students deserve to be penalized for "laying down their pencils" as one professor described it to me.
The majority, however, will continue their hard-working ways and master the material presented in their classes.
My proposal would be to abandon the letter grades in favor of the grade-points. The professors should expect performance from the average student that deserves a "4.0".
From that point, one can hope to earn a "4.1" or a "4.2" or a "4.3" as recognition for having excelled relative to the rest of the class. One should recognize that "grading on a curve" only makes sense when the performance of the population justifies having a pre-ordained percentage of students in each grade category. The actual performance of the students in a graduate-level engineering course might be such that a few stragglers deserve to be penalized, the majority deserve to be rewarded as they are used to being rewarded, and standouts should be recognized.
The university can even make the cutoff for avoiding disciplinary action a "3.5", for example.
The reality is that grades SHOULD inflate as the population becomes more and more refined by winnowing out the weaker students.
The fact that one makes it to one of these schools is the achievement and the grades don't matter!
High school students are just as bad as they are trying to get accepted into a top university. They are very worried about their GPA and of course its never their own fault. I correct them when they refer to the grade I “gave them”. I tell them they earned it and if they want to know who is at fault to “look in the mirror”.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Today's Ivy League grads are heading for lives of "public service," where the only factor influencing their merit raises will be their membership (or lack thereof) in a politically favored group. Transgenders will get the biggest trophies.
My guess would be that grade inflation exploded with the advent of affirmative action.
Yep—I knew a prof at an Ivy League school who was straight up told that she could not fail or nearly-fail a black or Hispanic student.
Say, didnt the Nincompoop-in-Chief matriculate at an Ivy League school?
That was my view.
One class, Animal Physiology, was one of those marker classes that if you wanted to go to Med School you had to do well in. The class was purposely set up for failure for the majority and the Professor very explicitly explained that to us. Now he didn’t mean failure in the sense of final grades but failure in that hardly anyone would actually pass individual tests and in the end he would adjust grades accordingly to reflect the average.
In the end only three people out of approximately 150 students received top grades, the rest were mired in B’s and C’s, and even a few fails. I was happy to get a B in that course because it was brutally tough for our level of instruction(no pre-req other than BIO101) but a few people threw conniption fits over B’s.
I faced the same problem when I graded a student’s final as B+ thinking it was a generous interpretation of her work. When I was as much as told to raise it to an A I knew I finished at that school. I resisted grade inflation pressures for about 16 years but enough was finally enough.
Of course, that's not what I said. I suggested that a failing student might be awarded a "3.4" and if such performance becomes the norm for that student then disciplinary action, possibly including expulsion, would then be justified.
The point I was trying to make is that "A" students in high school don't magically become "C" students simply because all the lower performing students are eliminated from the population. I think "grade inflation" makes more sense than "re-norming", which is what I would call it if the percentage of students in each grade category is held constant despite the fact that it is the students with the lower grades which are being eliminated from the population.
I was a student that despite being a year younger than my peers could read the text book, attend class and generally do B work without study, homework or applying myself in the least. That worked for elementary and secondary schooling.
When I hit the University level, bang — brick wall. In my Junior year a counselor looked at my mid-term grades of 8 hours of A and 7 hours of F and said, “You don't really want to be here, do you?” He was right, for that period and time in my life.
Many bright kids are poor students or pupils. In my case work experience and independent study took me from the most basic positions to a good top job in my 30s. I spent the next 35 years thereafter climbing the income ladder but it was a ladder where I could have started at a higher rung if I had been a more conforming pupil and a little less “bright.”
A lot of today's students are going to enter the business world and find they don't advance because what we get now out of the university systems are candidates that often can't understand a contract or specification, write a business letter, do simple math with consistent results or have a work ethic of any caliber.
Some years back I inherited a new hire who was had a double masters degree in Engineering and Architecture. He could not accurately count toilet partitions and urinal screens off a set of plans and document it legibly. He could not add a dimension string consisting of feet, inches and fractions and consistently come up with the right answer. He was a 3.6 student as I recall. He always had somewhere to be immediately after five o'clock.
I recall interviewing a candidate with a PhD in engineering. He was unable to answer a relatively simple question involving rotation within a two-dimensional coordinate system. Even more telling was that he didn't even pick up the pencil I supplied and didn't attempt to even understand the question. This person was evidently used to having things easy and didn't see the necessity of even humoring me during the interview.
I was actually selected late in the day to do the interview because the prior interviewers realized that the candidate was consistently dodging the technical questions. I was expected to press the issue in order to determine whether the candidate had the requisite skills or did not. He evidently did not.