Saturday, July 28, 2012

Musings on Grade Inflation in US Schools


Grade Inflation

After reading an article on Yahoo this morning about a student and his mother who sued a school system because he did not like his grade in conjunction with a situation my sister encountered where one of her university students threatened to sue the university because she refused to give the young woman an “A” she did not deserve, it has become clear to me why the USA can no longer compete academically. Parents have convinced themselves and their children that they are “special” or “exceptional” when in fact, they are average. This has inhibited striving for excellence in academics.

Study after study has shown that American students lag behind the rest of the world in math and science. And after reading business correspondence written by recent university graduates I can attest that schools at all levels have failed to teach Basic English composition, proper grammar usage and business writing.

My parents are retired educators. Even when I was a student in elementary school, my parents began to lament grade inflation. In the 1960’s an “A” ranged from 94% to 100%; a “B” from 85% to 93%; a “C” from 78% to 84%; a “D” from 70% to 77%; anything below 70% was failing. By the time I was graduated from high school in 1977 – an “A” was 90% and an “F” was 59%.  And the academic curriculum has been dumbed down to pander to various special interest groups. Really – calculators in class? Now computers?

Most studies have concluded that grade inflation is a symptom of the “Participation Trophy” mentality that advocates for a world in which there are no winners or losers. However, that is not the way life works. There are winners and losers in the real world. Life isn’t easy and it isn’t always fair and the earlier young people learn this valuable lesson, the happier they will be. Success after a failure is much sweeter. Learning to pick oneself up by one’s bootstraps builds confidence, fortitude, and an appreciation for what it takes to truly succeed and compassion for others who struggle.  Grade inflation has spawned an entire generation of young people who believe they truly are exceptional “A+” students who expect they should be recruited by corporate America for highly paid jobs immediately after graduation. It is not the 1% keeping them down! It is the attitude of entitlement without hard work and paying one’s dues.

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