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Grade inflation at UNC Chapel Hill

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At UNC Chapel Hill, lots of students are getting great grades, and some on the faculty are quite concerned.

Sound odd? Shouldn't students get good grades? Doesn't that reflect success both on the part of the student and the professor?

Yes, and no, many would say. A recent UNC-CH faculty grade inflation report, which you can view by clicking the attachment below,  suggests that so many students are doing so well that it is becoming difficult to distinguish between the best students and many of the rest.

One compelling piece of data - 82 percent of the grades issued in fall 2007 to undergrads were As and Bs. That's up from 77 percent in 2000.

Here's the story. In reporting the story, I asked plenty of people one basic question: If we start with the assumption that grade inflation does exist, is it, by definition, a problem?

Plenty of faculty members I spoke to, as well as several students, say yes. Parents of students who left me messages on my voicemail have a different view, pointing out that many of today's students go through more rigorous courses in high school, take tougher college courses, and test out better than students did 10 and 20 years ago. So, they argue, of course they get better grades.

That, of course, is a completely reasonable viewpoint and just drives home the point that grade inflation is a murky, complicated issue.

There are those who object to the notion of grade inflation altogether. Here's one view.

So what do you think? Is it okay for most students to get very high grades? Should the university ramp up testing and grading?

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I have talked to many parents students who often call me and leave me messages on my voicemail, amazingly they have a different view, pointing out that many of today's students go through more rigorous courses in high school, take tougher college courses, and test out better than students did 10 and 20 years ago. But still fact is fact that the pace at which our courses must be upgraded is not followed.

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About the blogger

Eric Ferreri covers higher education and general news.
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