Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Grade Inflation

Mark also has an excellent essay on what high school grade inflation means in college.

A record low of 34.9% of college freshmen report having spent more than six hours per week on homework during their senior year in high school. This is down from the high of 47.0% reported when the question was first asked in 1987. During that same period of time the number of students reporting that they spent less than one hour per week on homework during their senior year in high school rose from 8.5% to 15.9%.

While the amount of time high school seniors spend "hitting the books" has dropped to a new low, their high school grade point averages continue to inflate. As the chart below (from the report) shows, almost 70% of freshmen at private universities now receive A averages in high school, and more than half of the freshmen at public universities receive A averages as well. . .

Those of us who teach at the university level are left to cope with the effects of this system of illusory accomplishment. The majority of our incoming freshmen are ill prepared to cope with the intellectual demands of college courses -- not because they lack intelligence, but because they have not developed the study and time management skills that are needed to succeed in an environment where most learning takes place outside the classroom.

I remember this well--many of my public speaking students had difficulty selecting a topic for themselves--when the assignment meant that the students could select any informative topic that was significant to them. They always wanted me to tell them what to say.

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