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Everybody gets an A

8/23/2011: Apparently the average grade in upper level courses in UO’s College of Education is now 4.04. This generic problem at Ed schools is described and criticized in this paper (data shown is from Indiana):

This paper documents a startling difference in the grading standards between education departments and other academic departments at universities – undergraduate students in education classes receive significantly higher grades than students in all other classes. This phenomenon cannot be explained by differences in student quality or structural differences across departments (i.e., differences in class sizes). Drawing on evidence from the economics literature, the differences in grading standards between education and non-education departments imply that undergraduate education majors, the majority of whom become teachers, supply substantially less effort in college than non-education majors. If the grading standards in education departments were brought in line with those of other major academic departments, student effort would be expected to increase by at least 10-16 percent.

In my department the chair sends out an email every quarter showing how many A’s and B’s each professor gave out in each class, along with another email showing all the teaching evaluations. If you give out lots of A’s to get good evaluations you won’t fool anyone. Problem solved, except we still don’t give out enough D’s and F’s.


  1. Anonymous 08/23/2011

    A valuable and very disturbing paper.

  2. Anonymous 08/23/2011

    Why isn’t the integral of these probability distribution functions equal to one?

  3. Anonymous 08/23/2011

    dog says

    because they aren’t properly normalized
    but that doesn’t matter – only the relative
    differences in shapes matter

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