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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Grade inflation is expanding

Grade inflation is expanding, especially at high schools with affluent students, concludes a Fordham’s newest study, Grade Inflation in High Schools (2005–2016).

Seth Gershenson analyzed data on Algebra I students in North Carolina. He found many students earned good grades, but few also did well on statewide end-of-course (EOC) exams for the same classes.

Image result for grade inflation A+ report card

The EOC Algebra I tests, which were not developed or graded by classroom teachers, produced grades that predicted math ACT scores much better than class grades.

Schools enrolling affluent students showed the sharpest rise in grades. I’d guess teachers are under pressure to make everyone’s college application look good.

Parents believe the grades and not the test scores, write Amber M. Northern and Michael J. Petrilli.

In a 2018 Learning Heroes survey, 90 percent of parents said their child is performing at or above grade level and two out of three believed their child is “above average” in school, they write. “Eighty-five percent say their kid is on track for academic success—and just 8 percent believe that their child is performing below average.”

Yet “one-third of U.S. teenagers, at most, leave high school ready for credit-bearing courses,” according to ACT.

Most states have adopted tougher tests in the Common Core era. But parents trust teachers, not a “faceless test provider,” Petrilli wrote recently. They see papers marked up and  quarterly report cards, and attend a parent-teacher meeting once or twice a year. If the teacher says Johnny (or Logan) is “doing fine!,” who’s going to reject that in favor of an unreadable “score report?”

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