Nov 10, 2017 in Analysis

Grade Whining and Grade Inflation in the U.S. Colleges

Grade inflation in the educational sphere is not a recent phenomenon. Many studies and research have been dedicated to this burning issue as it causes many concerns and controversies among students, their parents, and tutors. Grade inflation has significant implications as it is directly related to the college credibility, standards of accountability, and excellence. Therefore, tutors should direct their efforts towards explaining the reason of this phenomenon and its complications. High rate of grade inflation is associated with increased demand or pressure placed on educators. Teachers are also provided with a great flexibility in grading options. Nowadays, the main challenge is how high grades will rise in the absence of positive correction action, and how the phenomenon of grade inflation will affect the credibility of colleges and graduates.

From the historical perspective, grades have reflected the students’ academic achievement and effectiveness of educational process within schools, colleges, and universities. The grade depends on whether or not learners have met the institutions’ demands. From one side, grade inflation is often regarded as the award for diligent academic performance. From another side, nowadays, tutors put high marks for the work that might receive negative feedback in the past. Experts wonder what lies behind the current college grade inflation. Nowadays, students enroll in easy subjects, and some faculties may put undeservedly high marks (Jewell & McPherson, 2012). The average grade point at the U.S. colleges has dramatically increased in recent decades. Seasoned students are aware of tutors’ generousness at the end of the semester. However, it is still unknown what factors play a decisive role in their decision. The examination of grade inflation often occurs from the economic perspective. Experts control measuring variables such as class choices, age, gender, and test scores (Kay, 2012). This method enables to decompose overall grade increase into components explaining changes in choices, preferences, and other issues.

Nowadays, grades continue to rise, and “A” has become the most common grade put by teachers in colleges. For many years, the faculty members have been trying to limit grade inflation, despite the fact that students welcoming high marks criticize this attempt.  Educators mostly put “A” in both two- and four-year colleges (Pattison, Grodsky, & Muller, 2013). Community college grades have peaked as well. There has been a slight increase in regard to “D” and “F” grades. High grades are still prevalent in the educational establishments. The student-as-consumer concept has encouraged institutions to accept high scores and award learners. Across the Unites States, college officials continue to promote this idea (Jewell & McPherson, 2012). As grade inflation is not a positive change; students have to prioritize education and change their attitude towards it.  However, most of colleges hide their grades, and they are embarrassed to demonstrate them. The best way to measure grade inflation is to review the power of grades for employment in the context of high salaries and prestigious jobs. The relationship between high scores and prosperity after college remains unchanged.  No one can ignore the fact that grades have their own value. However, experts assume that the main issue lies in underperformance, and, therefore, they are concerned about the grade inflation.

    Community colleges often rely on adjunct instructors. These specialists may lack job security and confidence to become tougher graders. Students favor easier graders, and, in some cases, educators adapt to this situation. In order to understand the issue of grade inflation, it is necessary to examine and compare student’s performance at two- and four- year colleges. It will help to determine at what institution, students are less spoiled. The low tuition and the fact that students of community colleges come from low-income households may also affect the grade inflation, and, as a result, students do not feel entitled. In reality, the four-year educational establishments get more opportunities to compete in the context of grades than community colleges. The majority prefers to go to the closest schools, and it is not necessarily that they will take advantage of high grades and other similar practice (Pattison, Grodsky, & Muller, 2013). In the context of entitlement, young people, who pay more for education, have a right to demand the accommodation. The grade inflation is higher among four-year students of private colleges as they charge more than public ones. Some key players are responsible for the overall trend. For example, classes in certain subjects are more prone to the grade inflation than others. Speech courses, music, and languages are more prone to inflation that other subjects, such as chemistry, math, and biology.

The majority of students get high scores not because they are smart, but for other reasons. In reality, many young people do not deserve marks that they get. In most cases, it occurs due to the grade inflation that spreads to the educational institutions across the United States. Despite the stagnant academic performance and in contrast to past experience, the majority of learners get higher marks than they should (Jewell, McPherson, & Tieslau, 2013). This trend raises ethical questions as young people are not getting smarter in the context of academic performance. It is also wrong to consider all of them to be literate after the graduation and associate high grades with an increase in achievements and academic performance. If the issue of grade inflation further exacerbates, young people, and their parents may not take the entire educational process seriously and get the wrong impression of teachers’ approach.  

In reality, college students are very concerned with grades that they receive for the taken courses. Parents often put pressure on their children to get good marks. Young people are also encouraged to maintain a minimum grade point to continue studying and keep scholarship. Most of them believe that their scores will largely determine their own opportunities and career prospects, particularly if they want to continue studies and get competitive, well-paid, and decent job (Kay, 2012). In addition to the significant external pressure, students have the internal motivation to do their best and set high standards considering grades to be a measure of success and prosperity in the education, career, and life.  Some students complain and whine about marks, thereby forcing teachers to review them. Not all tutors are ready to do that. Most professors and tutors are annoyed when students complain about grades, and would like to minimize this phenomenon using all possible means and methods of influence. Educators feel that constant whining and dissatisfaction with marks simply detract young people from acquiring relevant knowledge and meaningful education. Another pressure to get positive feedback from professors comes from parents or other parties, particularly employers, who are concerned with students’ prospects. In recent years, it has become commonplace for parents to call deans and professors and complain about their children’s low marks. Their dissatisfaction is also accompanied by highlighting the amount of money that they spend on kids’ college education (Jewell, McPherson, & Tieslau, 2013). All these factors and other external/internal forces have significantly contributed towards the grade inflation. The phenomenon of grade whining is not a new one. In recent years, it has become common for students to complain about their grades. Most of them disregard the manner they perform tasks, but still want to get high marks. It occurs not only because of positive career prospects, but also due to parents’ requests. However, it is not the best option for all involved parties. In order to get a positive feedback for an assignment, students have to work hard, and there should be no parents’ influence on tutors and deans.

To conclude, the burning issue of grade inflation has brought the U.S. educational system under significant scrutiny: professors, mentors, and administrators are engaged in grade manipulation mostly due to the internal and external forces. Higher education lacks strong, ethical, and moral leadership. College officials are obsessed with the endowment and institution’s reputation. Not all administrators are concerned about the quality of education, and, therefore, the issue of grade inflation only exacerbates, particularly at private institutions.

 

 

References

Jewell, R. T., & McPherson, M. A. (2012). Instructor‐specific grade inflation: Incentives,

gender, and ethnicity. Social Science Quarterly, 93(1), 95-109. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-

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Jewell, R., McPherson, M., & Tieslau, M. (2013). Whose fault is it? Assigning blame for

grade inflation in higher education. Applied Economics, 45(9), 1185-1200.

doi: 10.1080/00036846.2011.621884

Kay, J. F. (2012). Grade inflation: Academic standards in higher education. -Edited by Lester

H. Hunt. Teaching Theology & Religion, 15(1), 88-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-

9647.2011.00768.x

 Pattison, E., Grodsky, E., & Muller, C. (2013). Is the sky falling? Grade inflation and the

signaling power of grades. Educational Researcher, 42(5), 259-265.

doi:  10.3102/0013189X13481382

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