Grade Inflation in Education Colleges
It’s common knowledge that “grade inflation,” the lowering of standards that leads to ever-higher student grades for the same performance, is rampant. Matthew Denhart and Christopher Matgouranis note that, “It has been estimated that there has been at least a 0.1 percent increase in average student GPA in every decade since the 1950s. In 1991, for example, the average GPA according to gradeinflation.com was 2.93, but had risen to 3.11 by 2006.”
They argue, correctly in my judgment, that this not only weakens the signaling power of grades but also makes it harder for the truly excellent to differentiate themselves from lower achieving peers.
It’s also commonly known, at least within academic circles, that colleges of education are the worst offenders. They somehow take in the freshmen with the worst standardized test scores on campus and produce the students with the highest GPAs on graduation day. And it’s not through attrition.
The average GPA at the top twenty public research university for 2009 was a whopping 3.13. So, like Lake Wobeggon, all the students are above average. (Or, at least, the median student is above average.) In education departments, though, the GPA was 3.72. Almost an A! And, remember, these were the least promising entering freshmen. And, of course, the school GPA is skewed by the inclusion of the large colleges of education; the disparity would be even more stark otherwise.
They also sampled the University of Washington and found an Education Department grade curve with no bend in it. The modal grade, with 76% of the students receiving it, was an A. The next 21% got an A-. Yes, math majors, you did the calculation correctly: 97% got an A or A-. The remaining students got a B+ (3%) or a B (1%). Nobody got as low as a B-.
Via Chris Lawrence‘s Google feed. He comments, “While CCAP is often misguided, the ridiculous level of grade inflation among education schools is real – and a serious problem for student accountability in substantive coursework.”