Tuesday, April 13, 2004

History News Network 

At Liberty and Power, David Beito responds to my grade inflation post by suggesting instead that we use rankings.
For example, if the class has twenty students, they would be ranked 1 to 20. Ties could be averaged. If there students are tied for number 1, for example, each would be ranked 2 (the average of the ties). Ranking would not replace grading. Because the ranking and the letter grade for each class would *both* appear in the transcript, however, this reform would introduce greater truth in grading. Thus, a student receive an A in this class of twenty but still be ranked twenty in the class.
Many schools, particularly law schools, give an overall class rank based on GPA. While David's point has merit, it would mean that recruiters and HR professionals would have to acquire more information from a transcript than before -- GPA is popular because it is supposed to contain much information in one number. Use of rankings admits that the information content of that number has been reduced by inflation (just as price inflation reduces the information content in changing prices for milk or gas.) Nevertheless, if the demand for information on relative student academic quality is high enough, it will be worth it for employers to sift through the ranking data.