Grade Inflation

Grading practices.

Altough the collegiate setting is essentially a norm-referenced world, a tension has developed between norm-referenced and criterion-referenced evaluation, between traditional forms of assessment and newer, more 'authentic' forms.

Some instructors have abandoned comparative competitive normal curve distributions and moved to other methods and practices such as mastery learning and contracting where students participate in setting the standard. Such changes in grading procedures to self and peer evaluations, and to authentic and performance assessment, are a direct consequence of a shift from teacher-centred to student-centred modes of instruction. However, these benign, even benevolent approaches to assigning grades dismantle the hierarchy of learning that is implied by a normal distribution of grades, and encourage grade inflation.

© Margret Winzer, 2005. This site last updated: May 3, 2005