Friday, November 24, 2006

Grade inflation from HS to Grad school

Three related stories that are not strictly speaking finance but that should be of interest to most in academia.

In the first article, which is from the Ottawa Citizen, accelerated and executive MBA programs come under attack for their supposed detrimantal impact on learning in favor of revenue.

MBAs dumbed down for profit:
"An increasing number of Canada's business schools are literally selling MBAs to generate revenue for their ravenous budgets, according to veteran Concordia University finance professor Alan Hochstein.

That apparent trend to make master of business administration degrees easier to achieve at a premium cost is leading to 'sub-standard education for enormous fees,' the self-proclaimed whistleblower said yesterday"
The second article is a widely reported AP article that that centers on High School grade inflation. This high school issue not only makes the admissions process more difficult but it also influences the behavior of the students ("complaining works") and their their grade expectations ("I have always gotten A's and therefore I deserve on here").

A few look-ins from Boston Globe's version:
"Extra credit for AP courses, parental lobbying and genuine hard work by the most competitive students have combined to shatter any semblance of a Bell curve, one in which 'A's are reserved only for the very best. For example, of the 47,317 applications the University of California, Los Angeles, received for this fall's freshman class, nearly 21,000 had GPAs of 4.0 or above."
or consider this:
""We're seeing 30, 40 valedictorians at a high school because they don't want to create these distinctions between students...."
"The average high school GPA increased from 2.68 to 2.94 between 1990 and 2000, according to a federal study."
This is not just a High School problem. In part because of an agency cost problem (professors have incentives to grade leniently even if it is to the detriment of students), the same issues are regular discussions topics at all colleges as well. For instance consider this story from the Denver Post.
"A proposal to disclose class rank on student transcripts has ignited a debate among University of Colorado professors with starkly different views on whether grade inflation is a problem....

[some] professors who say their colleagues are so afraid of bad student evaluations that they are placating students with A's and B's.

The few professors who grade honestly end up with dismal scores on student evaluations, which affect their salaries, professor Paul Levitt said. There is also the "endless parade of malcontents" in their offices."

I would love to wrap this up with my own solution, but obviously it is a tough problem to which there are no easy solutions. That said, maybe it is time that I personally look back at my past years' class grades to make sure I am not getting too soft. If we all did that, we'd at least make a dent in the problem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you should check into princeton university's grade deflation policy.