Friday, April 16, 2004

More on grade inflation 

Following up on stories I've done here and at Liberty and Power (and see further David Beito's response), the Wall Street Journal follows up with more. They suggest a different corrective:
The result is today's credibility gap, where grades at our premier institutions are no longer real indicators of performance. In the same way that steroids have put a question mark over a whole decade's worth of baseball slugging records, all those Ivy A's now come with their own asterisks.

And the status quo corrupts a fundamental obligation of any university: not only to educate its students but to give them honest, objective assessments of how well they measure up. Which is why we are partial to college transcripts that would list a student's grades along with the percentage of classmates awarded the same grade in a particular class.
Again, the reason GPAs are used by potential employers of college graduates and by graduate and professional school admissions committees is that they have information content. When you have to add data to the same report, it indicates that the information value of the previous datum has decreased. That is, GPAs no longer tell you what you want to know: what is the quality of the student. Adding more data to convey the same information is a decrease in efficiency, not something to crow about.