Monday, December 27, 2010

Chapel Hill Campus Takes On Grade Inflation

Chapel Hill is taking a near impossible task, what does an "A" really mean? The article only begins to scratch at the surface of the problem. Does an "A" in English 101 equate to an "A" in organic chemistry or differential equations? Letter or numerical grades face an inherent limitation; trying to capture the sum of a student's work during a semester or quarter. Professors uses a variety of techniques to evaluate the student's learning but not all tests or essays are the same. Each will be different depending on the particular style and tastes of the professor. Student's performance may be enhance by previous coursework in the topic. An "A" in one school in say calculus may require much more work in one college than another. Some professors simply refuse to believe any student is capable of mastering their course. All of these factors mean coming up with some kind of grading standard is futile. We need to focus more on demonstrated ability, not just their final GPA. Look at sports. Athletes are subjected to the greatest amount of quantification of any class of human being. We know everything from their physical statistics, to their performance in various skills (such as running, jumping or how much they can lift), what their performance in the same sport was throughout high school, college and the pros. Their record is much more than simply a listing of wins and losses, it creates a picture of the whole athlete and gives a fairly accurate prediction of performance. College graduates are more than simply their GPA.

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