Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog generally agreed with a guest column last week about grade inflation by a college professor. The professor noted that students have grade-point averages that far exceed their SAT or ACT scores and end up struggling in even remedial courses, making him wonder if high school teachers are inflating grades to enable students to earn HOPE Scholarships. Here is a sampling of the comments to the blog:

HS Math Teacher: What if high schools could do what colleges do — make eighth graders whose grades have been inflated and who have failing CRCT scores take remedial classes before actually taking high school courses?

GD: Teachers who inflate grades cheat the student because the student is misled. Grade inflation cheats the students who have achieved their grades by devaluing their efforts and, in effect, teaching them that cheating is how to get ahead.

MotherofTwins: Grade inflation is rampant in North Fulton. It will stay that way regardless of HOPE because everyone — teachers, administrators, students and parents — support grade inflation. I personally like the fact that HOPE is need blind. There are so many of us who are in that middle place, where college is expensive, but we don’t qualify for need-based aid. Merit aid is getting harder and harder to find; it’s nice to have HOPE.

SGA Teacher: Teachers are forced under penalty of unsatisfactory reviews, professional development plans and other underhanded yet allowable reasons to artificially inflate grades. I know; it happened to me.

SBinFF: It’s far easier to give a student a “B” than deal with angry parents or administrators. If I gave my students the grades they deserved, half of them would fail, most of the rest would have a “C.” Maybe 10 percent actually do “A” or “B” work.

Looking4Truth: Grades no longer indicate what a child knows. Teachers are not allowed to give them the grades they deserve. Instead, they have to “fluff up” the grades with meaningless assignments. Parents don’t really want to know what their child is truly up to in school. If they did, they wouldn’t pressure teachers and administrators to give grades their child didn’t earn. They’d let the chips fall where they may and, if necessary, support the retention of their child until they learned what they need to pass.

Bear: Grade inflation is insidious. I was a “hard-nosed” grader for most my teaching career but must admit that in the five years leading up to my retirement in 2006, I allowed some “C’s” to morph into “Bs” because I was tired of fighting the good fight. However, grade inflation is not the only factor leading to poor first-year performance in college for supposedly qualified candidates. Immaturity, substance abuse and family crises, among other things, also contribute.

Claudia: During my years as a high school teacher, parents sometimes asked, pleaded or demanded that their children’s final grades be “bumped up” a point or two (or more) so that their children would be eligible for the HOPE Scholarship. My answer was always the same: No, with an explanation beyond the fact that the student didn’t earn a higher grade. Most students lose their HOPE Scholarships at some point in college. If a student maintains a “B” average (80 in most school systems), chances are good he or she will not succeed in college. As I told both parents and students, “Getting into a college is the easy part. You have to work really hard to stay in.”

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