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Grades are Rigged: From the Teen’s View

by Jacob P. | January 10th, 2014 | School, Teen Perspective, Teens

gradsNo, I’m not here to profess some conspiracy theory about how the educational system is rigged to help some students more than others.  Rather, I’m saying that the system is rigged for all students.  Grade inflation is rampant throughout the school systems in the U.S.

A “C” is supposed to be average, right?  Guess what?  It isn’t.  I guarantee you I can walk into any class (excluding AP courses) in my school and get a “B” without trying.  I’m an above-average student, but by “without trying” I truly mean no trying at all.  If I didn’t study, did poorly on quizzes and tests, and avoided any extra credit work, I could still get a “B”.  All I’d need to do is my homework.  As long as you complete your assignments, even with minimal effort , you can still get a “B.”

You may be wondering where I’m going with this.  Well, I want to explain what that means about being a good student in the modern high school:

  • I have a 3.96 GPA, which is just short of perfect … yet I’m sixth … in a class of 101.  The margin to succeed has shrunken considerably.  On top of that, it means a slight change will do a lot to your standing.  A fellow student had their GPA drop .05 points.  That individual dropped four places in the class rank.  Again, that is out of 101 people.  Is that not some form of insanity?
  • Average students regularly end up in competition with the very best.  While this may seem good, it can also hurt the educational system.  Yes, it can be well and fair to allow all students into the most advanced classes.  The thing is, this also hurts the quality of the classes.  Advanced students need to weed through the average students to succeed in classes that are only for advanced students.  My AP English class has 27 students.  That’s out of 101 who can join it.  That means that almost 1/3 of the grade is in that class.  This class is only intended for 1/10 of the students.  Now, that may seem like a fallacy, right?
  • Students aren’t armed to succeed.  Students don’t need to face failure.  If they can float by with “B’s,” how will they ever learn to work?  I have learned to work hard, but only through sports, honors and AP classes, and St. Paul’s.  This means many students flounder when they hit advanced classes or go to college.
  • This messes up the college application process.  The colleges are looking at students who appear highly talented, but in fact are nothing special.  This leads to colleges (such as Georgia Tech) ignoring class rank, because it is roughly irrelevant due to grade inflation.  This is also why I advocate for standardized tests for college (the SAT and ACT).  Yes, they stink, but if the grades are broken, you need a way to judge students.  It’s better than broken grades.

Grade inflation may seem nice to a student who is floating by, but it is crippling American high schools.  The real world isn’t that easy, so how is this inflation priming you for reality?

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