Snapshot: In a world of increasingly competitive college admissions, more and more one grade may well make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, grade inflation is widespread. How should teachers respond? Fight grade inflation, possibly putting their own students at a competitive disadvantage? Or give the grades they think kids have earned?
Case Description: Hamaskil High School is an independent Jewish day school in an East Coast suburb. They are struggling with grade inflation. Teachers agree that grade inflation is rampant, thanks to parental and administrative pressure. At the same time, teachers recognize that grade inflation is not specific to Hamaskil High, and that it would be unfair simply to blame parents and administrators for the pressure to inflate grades. Rather, grade inflation is a widespread social phenomenon in the United States. Furthermore, these inflated grades pay off. Grade inflation can be seen as a supportive stance, one that is focused on student success rather than failure. On the other hand, students with inflated grades may acquire a sense of (unearned) entitlement that follows them into college and career. Teachers also sacrifice their professional integrity by assigning grades that misrepresent students’ learning. What should Hamaskil teachers do?
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