John Stone of the Pacific Research Institute is dead right in this oped: “It is a disappointment when a child performs poorly in school. It becomes a tragedy, however, when the child and his parents are not told the truth.” After years of grade inflation, students who’ve passed all their courses are finding they can’t pass basic skills tests; “B” students are stuck in remedial classes in college.
California’s universities admit only the top third of high school graduates, but 37 percent are required to take remedial math and 48 percent remedial English.
Recently, researchers took a closer look at the letter grades awarded in a Florida school district. Judged by the scores students earned on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), only 9 percent of the “A”‘s assigned to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students were deserved. Of the students who performed at a “D” or “F” level on the FCAT, 17 percent had earned an “A” from their teacher. Many had been taught by teachers whom the study called “easy graders.” On average, these teachers assigned an “A” to those who were in reality “D” or “F” students 32 percent of the time.
Grade inflation benefits teachers and administrators, Stone writes.
High grades are more comfortable for everyone involved — including educators. Teachers, administrators and school districts can bolster constituent satisfaction and their public image — or they can do the opposite — depending on the grades they assign. The incentive is obvious.
Parents who are poorly educated themselves tend to believe their children’s report cards are genuine. Eventually, students realize they lack the skills they need to meet their college and career goals. By then, their years of free education are over, and it may be too late to recover.