Arkansas fights grade inflation

In  58 Arkansas high schools, more than 20 percent of students who got an A or B in algebra or geometry failed to score at the advanced or proficient level on the state’s end-of-course exam. Charging grade inflation, the state education department will require graduates of these schools to score proficient or higher on the state exam or at least 19 on the ACT  to qualify for a new state scholarship worth as much as $5,000 a year.

Via Curriculum Matters.

About Joanne


  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Hmmm…is proficient on this exam at grade level? I doubt it. Is advanced above grade level? I doubt it…Why in world would a 19 on the ACT be acceptable when that only gets on in remedial classes. Even Tennessee, one of the worse government education systems in the country requires a 21 on the ACT for the scholarship…geez…the race to the bottom continues…stupid

  2. On the contrary, think of this as weeding out the low-hanging fruit, if you’ll pardon the mixed-message metaphor.

    You have to start somewhere. Better to start low and ratchet upwards, than to start at 25 and deny scholarships that you then turn around and award anyway. Setting a rule that you immediately break is much worse than deciding that “kids are stepping up to the challenge” or some such BS.

  3. The state scholarship paid by a lottery. The ledge has not figured out all the kinks in it.
    During a meeting before school we clapped because our school was not on the list.

  4. This is a good trend, although I’d rather see only ACT/SAT scores used, since those are outside school/state control. Giving tax-supported scholarships to unprepared students is a bad idea. Remediation should be done at the CC level, not at 4-year colleges and not at taxpayer expense.

  5. Grades are a fraud. Good to see that a state is finally acknowledging this. 19 is a good start at a benchmark, but 21 would be better. Best of all would be restricting the scholarship to those who don’t need any remediation.

  6. One thing that has always bothered me about grades is that the designations are so broad. A, B, C, D, and F and that’s pretty much it. There is a great deal of variance between a B+ (say, 89%) and a B- (80%), yet the same letter grade is on the report card (B). Conversely, there is not much difference between a 89% (B+) and a 90% (A-), yet now there are two totally different letters and implications about the student’s academic performance on the report card. I think it would make much more sense to put the percentages on the report card so that parents can see more specifically how their children have done in their classes.

  7. Swede:
    Many schools have gone to a numeric system for just this reason. Other schools, on the other hand, have gone to block scheduling (which allows students to do much more classwork for a higher percentage of the grade == therefore higher grades) or to rubric scoring which lumps the kids into merely four groups.

    The “granularity” of the rubric system is especially suspect when all decimals are rounded up. If you average two 2s (nearly achieved the standard) with three 3s (achieved the standard), you get 2.6 which rounds to a 3 (achieved the standard).

    What’s the difference between “didn’t” and “nearly” achieving the standard, anyway?

    It’s a great method if you want to hide differences between students or close the gender or racial gap. If your parents don’t mind not knowing how well their kids are doing, its great. Pretty much all assessment is subjective: “students demonstrate a willingness to take risks in order to learn” or “respect diversity in dialects”.

    As Poor Elijah put it in one of his articles 6 years ago: “scorers need to distinguish with objective consistency between responses that “meander” and those that “ramble.” What’s the measurable difference between “appropriate sentence structure” and “effective sentence patterns”? Try deciding whether a math solution “may have used reasoning” or whether instead the answer “suggests reasoning was used.”

    It’s no wonder that schools with this system tend to grade high and have “better” results. Its also no wonder that I am in favor of state-wide end-of-course tests, the ACT and the SAT, and the AP.

    And it’s no wonder that colleges who are trying to find excuses to “diversify” are no longer using SAT scores in the admissions process – fuzzy grading and assessments make the “line” between students much grayer and easier to ignore in the name of “diversity”, not to mention the whole USNews ranking scam. But I’m repeating myself.


  8. Curmudgeon is right on everything but the state tests, which are at such a low level that they are essentially meaningless, as the Arkansas post on this site illustrates. ACT, SAT, AP, IB and possibly CLEP (I don’t know much about that one) are the only objective measures left.

    There is related trend to count homework much more heavily. One of my kids received a B+ in honors algebra II, despite having no quiz or test grade below the high 90s, because he hadn’t done some of the homework. No complaint. However, the next semester he discovered that a student with the same class and teacher had received an A; despite having had only 1 C, 2 Ds and all others Fs on the tests and quizzes, because the homework was done and correct (by whom?). That would be educational malpractice, if the education field acknowledged the concept.

    It’s all a scam, driven by full-inclusion and diversity. All must have the same outcomes, regardless of ability, interest or effort.

  9. I should clarify: end-of-course test that are given statewide and created by an outside entity are often superior to an EOC exam made and scored by the teacher.
    Regents, for example, isn’t perfect but it’s better than the random scoring and valuations you describe.

  10. “In 58 Arkansas high schools, more than 20 percent of students who got an A or B in algebra or geometry failed to score at the advanced or proficient level on the state’s end-of-course exam.”

    Not that it makes much difference, but this is stated incorrectly. It should read: In 58 Arkansas high schools, more than 20 percent of students who failed to score at the advanced or proficient level on the state’s end-of-course exam managed to received an A or B in the corresponding course of algebra or geometry.

  11. Sorry I didn’t proofread before posting. Forgive my bad grammar.