Monday, May 17, 2010

Are grades inflating in our schools?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) recently released results from the NAEP 2005 high school transcript study.

The report contains this graph, which shows the increase in grade point average by subject for high school seniors.

The lowest line on the graph shows that the US average grade point average in mathematics rose from 2.34 back in 1990 to 2.63 by 2005.

It’s interesting to compare that trend to the math scores for 17-year old students from the NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment. Here is a graph of those scores which I assembled using the NAEP Data Explorer:

As you can see, the NAEP math score stayed almost perfectly flat over the general time frame covered by the first graph.

Can you say, “grade inflation?”

Our schools are grading more easily, which makes them look good, but our kids are hitting college and getting the rude shock that they don’t know enough math and need to take remedial courses despite their misleadingly high GPAs from high school.