Monday, December 16, 2013

The Dangers of Grade Inflation: Not Everyone is Special

Courtesy of Washington Post: Know More

(note: this chart refers to colleges but I promise the same trend is happening in primary and secondary schooling)

According to my school this is what each letter grade stands for:
"A" = Excellent
"B" = Above Average
"C" = Average
"D" = Below Average
"F" = Failing

If "C" is average, shouldn't the majority of students be earning this grade?

The fact that 40% of college students earn "A's" or better worries me. Maybe our students are getting smarter. If they are, shouldn't our schools get more difficult? "A" stands for "excellent." If almost half of our students are "excellent" doesn't that make them almost "average"?

This is the problem with grade inflation. Schools want to claim that their average graduation rate is above a 3.0 so many programs make it so that if you don't get a "B" or better in the class, you can't "pass" the class (this was true of my program). That virtually makes my GPA useless. If you're going to do that, then why claim that a "C" is "average"? Not everyone can be special.

The mentality of "A's" and "B's" being the only acceptable grades is not unique to colleges. I have had students say to me "Man did I fail that test." The apparent "fail" was a grade within the 70's or 80's. I tell them "No, you didn't fail. You just didn't do as well as you wanted to. But you did not fail." Without fail, the response is "Yeah, but you try telling that to my parents."

Parents demand perfection. When their children earn less than an "A" they ask me "What can my child do to earn an 'A'?" I can't just come out and say to them "You're child isn't this amazing student when it comes to English. They are a good person but they aren't going to get an 'A' unless they cheat." It is the facts of life. Not everyone can get an "A" but every parent expects that.

This is attached to the mentality that you should get a trophy for participating because "everyone is a winner." Everyone is a winner, but not everyone is a winner at baseball. Everyone is gifted, but not everyone is gifted in English. We have to stop assuming every child can get an "A" in every single subject. We should start admiring their efforts they put into the grades they do receive and take pride in what they are gifted in. So what if your child can't get an "A" in English? If they worked their butt off and earned a "C" you, as a parent, should be proud. If they are amazing at skateboarding, you should be proud of them for that. If they are amazing at scrap-booking, be proud of them for that. Be proud of them for what they can do, not critical of what they can't.

To fix the obvious issue of grade inflation that the chart above shows, we need to fix our mentality about students. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone can achieve the same goals. We should be proud of our students for what they work hard for. This will take stress of students and allow the world to grow because they will be able to actually focus on what they can do not what they can't.

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