Tougher grading standards set more students up for success By Seth Gershenson Grade inflation is pervasive in American high schools. Over the past 20 years, grade point averages have soared while SAT scores and other measures of academic performance have held stable or fallen. Is rampant grade inflation cause for concern?
On the one hand, students who receive favorable marks despite struggling to master academic content may be encouraged in the student earns grades at home from the teacher studies; surely, many teachers who are generous in assigning grades have this logic in mind.
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Bush famously warned about. When students who have not mastered the material receive passing marks, they may become complacent and fail to reach their full potential. I then ask whether students did better or worse than expected when they were assigned to a more-demanding teacher. Not only do students learn more from tougher teachers, but they also do better in math classes up to two years later. The size of these effects is on the order of replacing an average teacher with one near the top of her game.
Exactly how higher grading standards lead to greater student success is not clear, and there may be multiple, overlapping factors at play.
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Parents faced with stressed-out children and an increasingly competitive college-admissions process may resist calls for more-rigorous grading. Educators and school leaders may be tempted to satisfy them, which is part of how the grade-inflation problem was created to begin with. A question of standards There is surprisingly little empirical evidence to back up the intuitive idea that high grading standards boost student learning. They also found that parents spent significantly more time at home helping children with a tougher-grading teacher, suggesting that the effect of high grading standards operates partly through increased parental involvement.
Both studies found that the effects of grading standards on achievement are positive for all students and largest for high achievers.
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However, Betts and Grogger also found that black and Hispanic students attending a high school with higher grading standards were less likely to graduate, suggesting that higher standards could have adverse consequences for traditionally disadvantaged subgroups.
For example, consider two classmates whose teacher has high grading standards and who both receive a C on their mid-semester report cards. If the students have different temperaments or innate ability levels, one student might be invigorated to improve her study habits while the other takes this same information as a signal that the subject is too difficult for her and further disengages from school.
The analysis I describe below builds on this prior research first by the student earns grades at home from the teacher how the grading standards of a high-school math teacher affect content mastery, as measured by performance on the end-of-course Algebra I exam. I explore whether the effects of grading standards vary for students from different demographic groups and with the type of school students attend.
Data and method I focus on Algebra I teachers and students for both practical and theoretical reasons. From a theoretical standpoint, math is the subject most affected by teachers and other schooling inputs, perhaps because parents and other household members are less likely to help students with their math work.
I focus on Algebra I classrooms that had a single teacher for the entire daily trades binary options trading year, resulting in a group of about 8, Algebra I teachers who taught about8th- and 9th-grade students. For each teacher in the state, I compute the average exam score of every one of her students who received a grade of B in the course.
For example, suppose that the average test score of the students who received a B from Ms. Apple was 80 points, while the average test score of students who received a B from Ms.
Banana was 90 points. This implies that Ms. Banana has higher grading standards than Ms.
Apple, because Ms. We can then sort teachers by this measure and designate the bottom 25 percent as the easiest graders, the top 25 percent as the toughest graders, and so on. Because students are not randomly assigned to teachers, we might worry that concerned parents or principals ensure that certain children are assigned to teachers with high grading standards.
And finally, to guard against concerns that school culture, district policies, or principal effects drive both teacher grading standards and student outcomes, I limit my comparisons to binary options one touch video of teachers with higher and lower standards who are taking Algebra I in the same school, in the same grade, in the same year.
A related concern is that teachers with strict grading standards may differ from teachers with lax grading standards in other ways, too.
I attempt to address this concern by adjusting for other observed teacher characteristics that are known to influence student test scores, such as teaching experience and the selectivity of their undergraduate institution. Strictly speaking, my analysis isolates the effects of having a teacher with high grading standards rather than the effects of high grading standards per se.
This distinction is important to keep in mind when interpreting the results. Effects on student achievement To simplify the analysis, I sort teachers into four evenly sized groups based on their grading standards, where group 1 has the lowest standards and group 4 has the highest standards. Teachers with the highest standards increase student test scores by a whopping 17 percent of a standard deviation compared to their counterparts in the bottom quartile see Figure 1.
To put this difference in perspective, consider that it amounts to a little more than six months of learning. It is also larger than the impact of a dozen student absences or replacing an average teacher with a teacher whose students consistently outperform expectations.
Teachers whose grading standards are in the middle are not as successful in raising student achievement as their tougher peers, but they are significantly more effective than teachers with the lowest grading standards. Again, these effects translate into meaningful differences of about 2. Since these tests are in somewhat different subjects and are taken one and two years later, it is not surprising that the effects on these longer-range outcomes are smaller than the same-year Algebra I effects.
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I then explore whether grading standards affect longer-run measures of educational attainment—specifically, high school completion and college intentions. These outcomes are measured three to four years after taking Algebra I in the 8th or 9th grade. I find no effect on high school completion, perhaps because students who take Algebra I early or on time are already unlikely to drop out.
At a minimum, it casts doubt on concerns that higher grading standards could discourage students from pursuing higher education. In both cases, higher grading standards appear to be universally beneficial.
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I find that the 75 percent of teachers with the strictest grading standards significantly improve the learning outcomes of all subgroups of students defined in terms of race, gender, economic disadvantage, and prior math achievement see Figure 3.
On the whole, having a teacher with higher grading standards improves achievement by about 10 percent of a test-score standard deviation, which amounts to about 3. These effects are similar in size for each subgroup: the effect ranges from about 8 percent to 10 percent of a test-score standard deviation.
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The fact that all student subgroups benefit from exposure to higher grading standards should alleviate any concern that some students, especially low performers, may be harmed by strict standards. Similarly, teachers with higher grading standards benefit students in all types of schools: middle and high schools; suburban, urban, and rural schools; and schools that predominantly enroll economically advantaged and economically disadvantaged students. Students attending suburban schools benefit somewhat more from higher grading standards, with an effect of 12 percent compared to 7 percent for urban schools.
This is the only difference that is statistically significant.
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Otherwise, I find that high standards are equally beneficial in all school types. Which teachers and schools have higher standards? My findings so far provide compelling evidence that having high grading standards is an important attribute of effective teachers, but what leads some teachers to have higher standards than others? Teachers who attended selective undergraduate institutions and teachers who have completed advanced degrees both tend to have higher grading standards.
The difference is sizable: the average grading standards of teachers who attended selective colleges are 50 percent higher than those of teachers who earned their undergraduate degrees from less-selective schools.
I find an even larger difference when comparing teachers with a graduate degree to those without: the average grading standards of the student earns grades at home from the teacher who have earned a graduate degree are more than twice as high as the grading standards of teachers without a graduate degree.
Together, these results suggest that experiences in more-challenging academic environments may promote higher standards. Second, my analysis shows that grading standards adjust based on teacher experience and school settings—findings relevant to policymakers and school leaders considering grading-standard interventions or policy changes.
Nine Characteristics of a Great Teacher January 14, Maria Orlando EdD Years ago, as a young, eager student, I would have told you that a great teacher was someone who provided classroom entertainment and gave very little homework. Needless to say, after many years of K administrative experience and giving hundreds of teacher evaluations, my perspective has changed. My current position as a professor in higher education gives me the opportunity to share what I have learned with current and future school leaders, and allows for some lively discussions among my graduate students in terms of what it means to be a great teacher. Teaching is hard work and some teachers never grow to be anything better than mediocre.
In looking at teacher experience, I see that as years on the job increase, grading standards increase as well. Grading standards tend to be higher in middle schools, suburban schools, and schools serving more advantaged students. Unlike my analysis of student performance, this is necessarily a descriptive exercise; teachers are not randomly assigned to schools and school-level factors might influence student test scores.
First, I compare middle schools to high schools, since students in the sample took Algebra I in either the 8th or 9th grade, and school cultures likely vary considerably between middle and high schools. Grading standards are markedly higher in middle schools, on average. A second analysis compares schools with higher rates of student poverty to schools with more affluent students.
Once give money binary option, there is a dramatic difference, with significantly higher standards in the more advantaged schools. Finally, in looking at school types by location, I find grading standards are highest in suburban schools and lowest in rural schools.
Students assigned to teachers with the lowest standards do far worse on an end-of-course exam than their peers with tougher teachers, and continue to underperform those students one and two years later. Three main lessons stand out. First, education leaders at all levels can acknowledge that grade inflation is the path of least resistance and that it takes active measures to uphold high standards.
As Success Academy Charter Schools founder Eva Moskowitz has put it, When teachers give high grades for mediocre work, no one asks any questions and they can carry on as before. When they give more realistic grades, they have an obligation to follow up with detailed feedback, more support, and better instruction. This effort can include leaders of schools, districts, states, and schools of education, especially since newer teachers tend to have the lowest standards.
Some teacher-training programs are already onboard.
Similarly, the teacher professional-development program Great Expectations emphasizes the importance of having high expectations for all students. Observable markers of effective teaching are in short supply.
Grading-standard measures of the sort I use in this analysis can best binary options prediction schools and districts to identify and retain teachers who implement high standards.
These same measures also may help schools and districts to provide opportunities and resources for improvement to teachers with low standards. Finally, it is incumbent on policymakers, researchers, and education leaders to make clear the damaging consequences of both low grading standards and grade inflation. Inflated grades can lead to a sense of complacency that prevents students from reaching their full potential and prevent parents from understanding what challenges their children face and holding them accountable for their performance.
Of course, changing both policy and practice is easier said than done. There is much work to be done. Fordham Institute.