Grade Inflation: Misnomer

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Grade Inflation: Misnomer One of the most controversial and most widely argued academic ethics issues throughout the past half century has been grade inflation. Educators, students, journalists, and analysts widely differ. Some argue that grade inflation is a serious and universal issue and needs to be addressed at a national level; others believe that grade inflation is nonsense and that what needs to be addressed are grading problems that exist at particular schools at given times. First of all, this paper intends to demonstrate that grade inflation, as applied by its proponents, is a misnomer, a mistaken way of viewing and addressing grading problems that exist in certain educational institutes at given times. Secondly, grade inflation is founded on an improperly formulated and erroneous assumption that students’ achievements can be empirically calculated, at least with currently used methods. Finally, grade-increase trends have either favorable or unfavorable causes and should not be inappropriately treated as a meta-problem. Grade inflation has been assigned to phenomena ascertained by studies that reveal a general grade-increase trend spanning one or multiple institutes of learning over a number of years supposedly without any obvious rise in students’ accomplishments. Bejar and Blew (1981) explain that the phrase is an analogy to economic inflation: an increase in money supply coincides with a decrease in productivity. Likewise, grade inflation is the coincidence of an increase in students’ grades and a decrease in their “ability” (p. 1) or “achievement” (Kohn, 2002, ¶ 3). The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2009) defines misnomer as “a use of a wrong or inappropriate name.” The phrase, grade inflation, is a theoretically correct and appropriate concept. However, grade inflation is a wrong and an inappropriate phrase, a misnomer, as applied by certain

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