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« Woo-hoo! | Main | Brave New World »

April 09, 2004


John Bruce

Thanks for the link! I noticed this proposal earlier, and what it reminded me of is what often happens in work environments -- Human Resources departments may place similar cutoffs on "Exceeds Expectations" appraisals (or other equivalents of As). The result is that the pool of high ratings is parceled out among managers via horse-trading, bum kissing, or whatever. The academic result would be equally predictable, I think. Because the overall quota is going to be by department, according to this proposal -- not even by class -- the outcomes will be brokered around. Prof. Smith will get to give 12 As, Prof. Jones will get 5 (but in return will get an honorarium for reading his old article at the department tea next month), and so forth.

So the result will be probably even less merit based than a curve, since not only will there be arbitrary decisions based on a bell-shaped distribution, but THOSE decisions will inevitably be rationed unequally. Leave it to Ivy League academics to figure something like that out!

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