Grade inflation is the arbitrary assignment of higher grades for work that would have received lower grades in the past. The higher grades do not reflect a genuine improvement in student achievement. Only with systematic research can it be determined whether rising grades are a result of grade inflation or higher achievement. The pressure to inflate grades, and thereby reduce standards, which is placed on teachers can come from parents, students, schools and politicians, and is evidence of underlying credential inflation. This is especially true since, if other schools or teachers are inflating grades, any school or teacher that takes a "hold out" stance will place its students at a disadvantage. Some educators may feel pressured to give higher grades for fear of students complaining and receiving bad course evaluations, thereby diminishing their reputation resulting in denial of promotion or tenure, or causing them to face lower enrollment in their classes. Course evaluations produced by the students in a class are often used by committees to help them make decisions about awarding the teacher promotion and tenure. A teacher may improve evaluations by improving their teaching, but the strategy that comes most quickly to mind for achieving better evaluations is to give higher grades for assignments and exams. A comprehensive study by Valen Johnson shows a statistical correlation between high grades and high course evaluations [Grade Inflation: A Crisis in Education, Springer-Verlag, 2003]. In a separate analysis of grades at Pennsylvania State University, the onset of grade inflation in the 1980s corresponds with the onset of mandatory course evaluations. Possible problems associated with grade inflation
Grade inflation makes it more difficult to identify the truly exceptional students, as more students come to get the highest possible grade. •
Grade inflation is not uniform between schools. This places students in more stringently graded schools and...
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