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Grade Inflation

by hotvette
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zomgwtf
#19
Oct6-10, 09:56 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Wow, trig and calculus are middle school subjects. (introductory level)
I don't remember exactly what I learnt in middle school but I can say that it was definitely not calculus or trig.

If anyone can learn trig or calc at the middle school level then I would say they don't even have to complete highschool just send them to uni. Perhaps not so much with trig but calculus? Lol.

I wonder Evo, how do you expect a middl school student to learn and understand calculus when they don't even know how to graph properly yet.
G037H3
#20
Oct6-10, 10:04 AM
P: 326
Pure analytic solution without any physical intuition?

lol.
zomgwtf
#21
Oct6-10, 11:29 AM
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Quote Quote by BobG View Post
I'm not a great fan of the 4+ GPA's, but GPA has seldom been a great indicator anyways. There's big differences in the difficulty of courses taken by different students, and the differences should be based on what the student's future plans are, not by how his choices will affect his GPA. The 4+ GPA just makes the risk of taking the difficult courses less for those students concerned enough about their GPA for it to influence their decisions about whether to take the most difficult courses or not.

Used to be, GPA was a signficant determinant for college acceptance, but colleges took the difficulties of the courses taken into consideration themselves, with no 4+ GPA to guide them. A student wouldn't really know how much influence his GPA had vs the influence the quality of course work had.

I guess, technically, the 4+ GPA also discriminates between the student that got a 4.0 GPA taking easy courses and the student that received a couple B's because they took the tough courses when it comes to things like valedictorian and so on, as well.
Don't the colleges have pre-req courses? Here in Ontario when you apply you give them 6 grades and they average out. But included in those 6 are mandatory pre-reqs.

For instance if you want to apply for the sciences you have to have
English
2 Sciences
Math (some require both university level maths)

All have to be at university level. Your last 2 other courses would be two courses with the highest mark at university or mixed level. Then this gets averaged out and that's your entrance average.

So this wuold be the university making sure you took difficult and related courses.

If you look at the Arts programs however all that's required is English
Dr Transport
#22
Oct6-10, 06:39 PM
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I am aware of a college completely ignoring class rank and GPA from high schools and taking into account only the ACT or SAT. They are aware of grade inflation and have taken a stand.
Chi Meson
#23
Oct6-10, 07:09 PM
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Quote Quote by Dr Transport View Post
I am aware of a college completely ignoring class rank and GPA from high schools and taking into account only the ACT or SAT. They are aware of grade inflation and have taken a stand.
This is more and more true. Our High School is trying to do away with GPAs, but pressure from parents prevents this action. The reason is that it is so closely associated with college acceptability. The problem is, with inflated grades, you can have a class where a quarter or third of the class has a grade "above 100%." When so many students are getting such high marks, you lose the ability of finding out who is really the strongest student, because a 97% average produces the same GPA factor as a 107% (in other words, an A+ is equal to an A+++).

This creates problems for classes that are truly challenging (Honors Physics for example, where the teacher still believes that a B is a "good grade," and maybe one student per class might end up with an average at or slightly above 100%): when a student sees a B+ coming around the corner, they bail out because they are "worried about their GPA."

So yeah, grade inflation is a pervasive problem. I would love to do away with grades, myself, but ...
BobG
#24
Oct6-10, 09:50 PM
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Quote Quote by Chi Meson View Post
This creates problems for classes that are truly challenging (Honors Physics for example, where the teacher still believes that a B is a "good grade," and maybe one student per class might end up with an average at or slightly above 100%): when a student sees a B+ coming around the corner, they bail out because they are "worried about their GPA."

So yeah, grade inflation is a pervasive problem. I would love to do away with grades, myself, but ...
Aren't honors classes the main reason for GPA's above 4.0? At least at the high school my kids went to, a A in an honors class was a 5.0 and a B a 4.0, while normal classes used 4.0 for an A and 3.0 for B (along with whatever + or minus, so a person could earn 4.0, 3.7, 3.3, 3.0, 2.7 in a class and so on).
Office_Shredder
#25
Oct6-10, 10:59 PM
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Quote Quote by Chi Meson View Post
This is more and more true. Our High School is trying to do away with GPAs, but pressure from parents prevents this action. The reason is that it is so closely associated with college acceptability. The problem is, with inflated grades, you can have a class where a quarter or third of the class has a grade "above 100%." When so many students are getting such high marks, you lose the ability of finding out who is really the strongest student, because a 97% average produces the same GPA factor as a 107% (in other words, an A+ is equal to an A+++).
This reminds me of something that happened when they switched to the new SAT scores... someone at the high school in my town said to a group of parents at a college application Q&A type session that it was a good year for college applications, because the colleges wouldn't know what a "good" score is. Keep in mind that differentiating the top students is only a good thing for the top students, so it shouldn't be entirely surprising that there are people who would resist it

Quote Quote by BobG
Aren't honors classes the main reason for GPA's above 4.0? At least at the high school my kids went to, a A in an honors class was a 5.0 and a B a 4.0, while normal classes used 4.0 for an A and 3.0 for B (along with whatever + or minus, so a person could earn 4.0, 3.7, 3.3, 3.0, 2.7 in a class and so on).
GPAs above 4.0 on their own aren't a problem. Grade inflation in the form of everybody getting a higher number doesn't make a flying wit of a difference. The problem is when the ability to differentiate students goes out the window because the lowest allowable grade increases, but there are no higher grades to attain.
jhae2.718
#26
Oct6-10, 11:14 PM
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I'd say there's a general trend of grade inflation; at the high schools in the district where I went to, they operated on an 8.0 scale, where 4.0 was an A in a standard class. (I'm not quite sure how they got to 8.0 points; it defies all logic.)
zomgwtf
#27
Oct7-10, 12:23 AM
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Quote Quote by Office_Shredder View Post
GPAs above 4.0 on their own aren't a problem. Grade inflation in the form of everybody getting a higher number doesn't make a flying wit of a difference. The problem is when the ability to differentiate students goes out the window because the lowest allowable grade increases, but there are no higher grades to attain.
Don't you get differentiated by your SAT scores??? Isn't that what really matters?

Why do Americans use GPAs in highschool anyways? Isn't the GPA meant to differentiate between large groups of students? For intance Honours is say 3.60+ and to pass you have to get 1.0? I mean you don't really use it for entrance into anything... just to be part of that 'group'.
G037H3
#28
Oct7-10, 03:07 AM
P: 326
Don't you get differentiated by your SAT scores??? Isn't that what really matters?
extracurriculars are considered just as important, and if you're applying to a top-tier school like MIT, they want you to take at least two SAT subject tests, and more universities are now pushing for students to take language courses in high school (despite these classes teaching basically nothing)

Why do Americans use GPAs in highschool anyways? Isn't the GPA meant to differentiate between large groups of students? For intance Honours is say 3.60+ and to pass you have to get 1.0? I mean you don't really use it for entrance into anything... just to be part of that 'group'.
I dunno. I think the 1-6 grading scale, or some variation thereof, makes much more sense. But the decline of public education means that standards are becoming yet more lax. The US is in a strange situation: on one hand, egalitarianism is pushed constantly, on the other hand, the public schools suck despite all the money poured into them, but the universities are the best in the world.

Natural intelligence differences overcome egalitarianism propaganda, apparently. (excluding affirmative action) ^_^
xxChrisxx
#29
Oct7-10, 03:14 AM
P: 2,043
There is the same debate that happens every year in the UK, more people get a higher % of the grades at GCSE and A level.

Exams aren't getting easier, the subject material is very much the same year to year. Teachers are just getting much better at putting children through exams. For example there are now endless learning and teaching resources resources, practise papers that are available now, but were not in the past. You can optimise teaching for passing exams. The only downside to this is, you learn to pass exams, you don't learn to solve problems.

One way to solve this is to use the old fashioned method that Universities use to calculate grades, by giving out a set amount of grades as a % of the people who took the exam. Then you have very bright people who get stiffed of a 'good grade' becuase they were in a particually bright year.
BobG
#30
Oct7-10, 09:33 AM
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Quote Quote by hotvette View Post
My daughter is a senior in High School (local public, not private) and just found out her GPA (4.0 unadjusted, ~4.4 adjusted for AP classes) ranks her 44 out of 450 seniors in her school.

While I'm delighted she is in the top 10% of the class, I think it's absurd that 43 seniors have better than 4.0/4.4 GPA. I'm aware of one major U.S. university (Princeton) that is engaged in an active program of grade de-flation. I sure hope the movement grows. It ultimately does a dis-service to the kids (yeah, parents too) to have such high grades resulting in a perhaps distorted perception of their standing against their peers.

[/rant]
Quote Quote by Office_Shredder View Post
GPAs above 4.0 on their own aren't a problem. Grade inflation in the form of everybody getting a higher number doesn't make a flying wit of a difference. The problem is when the ability to differentiate students goes out the window because the lowest allowable grade increases, but there are no higher grades to attain.
I must have misinterpreted the original post. It sounded to me that he found the idea of GPA's higher than 4.0 to be a little absurd. He disagreed with the idea that two people could both achieve straight A's through high school, with one being valedictorian and the other not even being in the top 10% of their class.

The fact that a student has almost no excuse nowadays to get less than a B in most high school classes is a completely different issue. (With some of the reasons being improvements in the system and some being dilution of the system. The need to achieve good scores on standardized tests has had both positive and negative effects - not just one or the other.)

Either way, the problem is too much focus on GPA's being a way of ranking students. In theory, test results should tell a student what items they need to spend a little more time on (instead of just tossing their test in the trash and sighing in relief that they'll never need to remember all 'that stuff' again). In theory (i.e. - magically eliminating all time and resource constraints), every student should be able to retest until they finally master whatever the course was supposed to teach. If not for the constraints of reality, a GPA would be completely meaningless.
twofish-quant
#31
Oct7-10, 10:33 AM
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Quote Quote by G037H3 View Post
You're free to not believe me. But from the end of WWII until the late 1960's, when the Civil Rights Act made it an impossibility, the US government and academia had a very different attitude towards developing education than the egalitarian model seen today.
You are in a forum with scientists that are used to asking for evidence whenever a claim is made. What you've just said is not good enough for much of anything.

It was rather rare for people to graduate from high school until WWII.

http://faculty.smu.edu/millimet/clas...tro/goldin.pdf

And the attitude until the 1960's was that certain people with high melanin content just shouldn't get an education.
twofish-quant
#32
Oct7-10, 10:40 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by G037H3 View Post
The US is in a strange situation: on one hand, egalitarianism is pushed constantly, on the other hand, the public schools suck despite all the money poured into them, but the universities are the best in the world.
US public schools are actually rather good. One thing that I find is that people that believe otherwise tend to either have very little experience with schools in other countries, or when they do they do apples versus oranges comparisons in which the best schools in other countries are compared to average or below average US schools. There's also the tendency to use rather bogus statistics to compare countries.

Egalitarianism looks pretty awful if you think that you are going to be in the top of the heap. Once you find out that you are not, it looks pretty good. I'm all for egalitarianism because I doubt I'd be able to get the chances that I got in the US in most other countries.
twofish-quant
#33
Oct7-10, 10:43 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by zomgwtf View Post
Don't you get differentiated by your SAT scores??? Isn't that what really matters?
Not really standardized test schools are only one small part of college admissions. They aren't the end all and be all of college admissions.
twofish-quant
#34
Oct7-10, 10:51 AM
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Quote Quote by CRGreathouse View Post
I went to a talk at a math conference that showed textbook excerpts and syllabi from the 50s, 70s, and 00s at that university. I was shocked at how easy the material was -- you could take Calculus III for 400-level credit, or an introductory astronomy class for 300-level credit. In fact, in the 50s at this (good) university, you could graduate with a math degree (B.A., not B.S.) without taking Calc III. Now it's extremely rare for a math major to take the class later than freshman year! Also, a math major could get college credit for taking Algebra II...
I did a mini-research project on how the physics and engineering curriculum at MIT has changed since the mid-19th century, and I found essentially the same thing. Looking back at the curriculum in 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, and 1960, I was quite surprised at how low the standards where. It wasn't until the 1960's that you had something that resembled the curriculum that you have today.

One thing that I noticed was how much a lot of the improvement was due to better teaching methods. Someone in 1920 just knew less about how to teach calculus than someone in 1960 or 2000.

Personally, I'm all for grade inflation. Anything that makes grades bogus and meaningless is a good thing, IMHO.
G037H3
#35
Oct7-10, 11:07 AM
P: 326
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
You are in a forum with scientists that are used to asking for evidence whenever a claim is made. What you've just said is not good enough for much of anything.

It was rather rare for people to graduate from high school until WWII.

http://faculty.smu.edu/millimet/clas...tro/goldin.pdf

And the attitude until the 1960's was that certain people with high melanin content just shouldn't get an education.
I asserted a cultural/political opinion, these are impossible to 'replicate', as history is impossible to replicate. The "social sciences" are politicized by the leading school of thought, which has been for the longest time, the Frankfurt School and the results of such.
twofish-quant
#36
Oct7-10, 11:32 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by G037H3 View Post
I asserted a cultural/political opinion, these are impossible to 'replicate', as history is impossible to replicate.
That's a philosophical position which I very strong disagree with. It's impossible to replicate the big bang, but that doesn't mean that you can't make empirically grounded statements about it. My own philosophical tradition comes from the evidential school of Confucianism which views social history as just a part of the history of the universe.

One interesting philosophical problem is the problem of replication, and I've found that being an astrophysicist helps me think about economic issue. I can't replicate the financial crisis of 2008. On the other hand I can't replicate the creation of the earth. So how do I make well-grounded statements about the formation of the earth?

The "social sciences" are politicized by the leading school of thought, which has been for the longest time, the Frankfurt School and the results of such.
I happen to be a strong fan of the Frankfurt School especially Jurgen Habermas, and I think you are strongly mischaracterizing what they believe. Curiously, I became a fan of the Frankfurt School and various post-modernist schools of thought, after I read Alfred Bloom and Dinish D'Souza trash them, and I figured that I ought to just go and *read* works from the Frankfurt School, and I found that what Habermas talks about really made a lot of sense to me. I ended up with a much more positive opinion of Derrida than I did with Alan Bloom.

I mentioned elsewhere that I'm an ardent Marxist, and being an ardent Marxist is why I ended up on Wall Street.


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