Grade Inflation in the Caribbean

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The education system is stated to be a means of mobility through society but it aids in social control and the continuance of the class system and class inequality. The focus of my analysis will be that of grade inflation in Barbados as a reflection of the wider Caribbean from the Marx perspective. Grade inflation according to Sociology, A Down To Earth Approach 11th Edition by James M. Henslin ‘occurs when higher grades are given for the same work thereby there is a general rise in student grades without a corresponding increase in learning’ or as explained by Goldman, grade inflation is defined as an upward shift in the grade point average (GPA) of students over an extended period of time without a corresponding increase in student achievement (Goldman, 1985). In detail this means that the average grade for a course etches up from a grade C to a grade B which is usually reserved for above average performances, and in this case it could have been based on a ‘who you know’ or socio economic background. According to Karl Marx society is divided into two classes, bourgeoisie and proletariat. The bourgeoisie control not only the government but the educational system and they introduce and reiterate false class consciousness in the proletariat’s children. This reinforces acceptance of the status quo by dulling the lower class into obedient workers due to the hidden curriculum which are subtle presentations of political or cultural ideas in the class room; thereby allowing the rich to maintain their status in society because they are the owners of the means of production and the lower classes have no other choice but to work and provide for them. Advantages – self promotion for the student, making them feel as though they have achieved a lot and their studying time is paying off but this is also seen as a disadvantage because you are fooling the student into thinking that they are achieving these high grades when the grades had been inflated. Students also compete with each other, enabling the drive to excel to be the best in their field and to find solutions to problems. Disadvantages-Marxists recognised that when grades are inflated it does four things; it aids in social promotion which is passing students onto another level even though they have not mastered basic material. A common example of this is allowing a child to move from 1st form to 2nd form without them understanding the 1st form work; this is done to keep the name and reputation of the school at a certain standard especially if the school is a private institution. This gives rise to the functional illiterate within the job sector. It allows weaker students to be accepted and qualified students to be unfairly rejected, permitting the acceptance of a person who does not meet the criteria. Some students are given more than one chance and even though they attain higher grades they have not mastered or learnt any information that will last or that can be applied in any work force. Therefore this retention skill does not challenge the student to be the best they can be and use their potential because they know that they will be granted an easy pass and all of these situations give way to inequality amongst individuals and classes.Grade inflation acts to give students a false premise within the education system and by extension maintains class structures. Within all secondary schools in Barbados each form has a name attached to it, the elite students that would get high grades will be placed in these classes whilst students who have lesser grades will be placed in the lower classes. For example at the Christ Church Foundation School in 2004 and prior to that 4th forms consisted of 4A1- 4A4 and 4@1-4@4. The students in 4A were equipped to do business subjects whilst those of 4@ (alpha) were the science students and only the students from 4A1,4A2 and 4@1,4@2 would pass with high grades and were expected to get the highest grades in CXC’s and A levels.Bowles and...
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