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When B is Average

A new study reports that the average GPA in private colleges and universities is 3.3.  The average GPA in public colleges is 3.0.

Authors of the study, Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy, in an article in Teachers College Record, collected data from 160 schools.  The authors conclude that teachers at private schools are more “generous” in their grading, but note that grading in all colleges and universities is easier than it was before.

On the other hand, Jean Twenge, in her book Generation Me, notes that 70% of college freshmen report that their academic ability is “above average.”  She found that students who have an inflated opinion of their abilities are more likely to drop out when the work becomes more rigorous.   Report_card  She concludes that some students have come to believe in high school that minimal work is satisfactory and are surprised to find that some college professors expect more.  Apparently this is not true in all colleges.

My guess is that many veteran teachers would agree that they have become easier graders over the years.  Some will say that kids just don’t do the assigned homework anymore.  Others will say that pressure from parents or even principals not to fail kids is intense. Still others will see better grades as proof of “accountability.” 

The average grade today may be a “B” instead of a “C.”  On paper we may look like Lake Woebegone where all the children are above average.  It’s a relative, not an absolute scale after all.  In the end, however, you know what you know.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.