Monday, April 19, 2010

Is grade inflation linear or exponential?

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to answer the question; I just like the word linear and wanted to use it.*

But, I saw a headline that talked about private schools being a cause of grade inflation. Didn’t read the article, so I have no opinions about the headline’s premise.

But it got me thinking. I first heard about grade inflation a couple of decades ago. Presumably at some point in time grades given by instructors were accurate. An “A” was an “A,” and so on.

Then, for whatever reason (my understanding is that the original cause was social pressure) Teacher A gave Student A a better grade than was deserved.

Student A is all grown up now, equipped with the knowledge, or lack of knowledge, that teacher A provided. If Student A goes into education and becomes Teacher B he or she has a standard that’s inaccurate. Given that social pressure has remained constant (as evidenced by the headline), Teacher B gives Student B a hyper-inflated grade. Is an A given today really a C? Probably not, because in two more generations my model would make an A the equivalent of an F. It does make you want to look at a resume a bit more closely.

Or should I promise to never again write about any scientific subject?

*If you are really bored or really a nerd, here’s a numbing article about linear and exponential growth:

No comments: