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« Success! | Main | Victorian Terrors! »

October 30, 2005



Michael Bérubé suggested a way of coping with grade inflation in a story now locked behind the NYT paywall — but the heart of the proposal appears here.


I have a friend who teaches at one of the 80%+ institutions on that list, and suggests that another factor is to blame, at least for the small liberal arts colleges: retention. If a student is getting C's for 30k/year, why are they paying 30k, instead of transferring to a cheaper state school? So faculty are pressured (by whom, I couldn't specify) to keep grades high to keep marginal students paying tuition dollars.


Ryan, marginal students pay 30+K a year for prestige, not grades. Unless they stay in academia, no one will ever inquire as to their grades once they graduate -- but their school will head up every resume. As long as they graduate, Cs at a prestigious school are way better than As at a generic state school.


I think that there may be several reasons for the data. Retention is definitely one. I know faculty at an area college who are seriously pressured by their administration to keep student enrollment up. They do this by handing out grades for comparatively little work. We have some of our students go there and then try to transfer the courses. The problem is that they can't pass the courses that follow since they don't have a strong enough background.

Our own stats probably are a bit skewed by the fact that we have a very liberal drop policy. Students can drop any course up to within a few weeks of the end of the semester by simply going to the registrar and filling out a form. Students not doing well are the ones that drop, so the GPA of the remaining students rises accordingly.

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