Suburban, private school grade inflation harmful to urban students
- New research shows that students in private and suburban public high schools have seen rising GPAs compared to their less-affluent peers in urban public schools despite scores on the SAT college entrance exam falling overall, The Atlantic reports.
- The College Board's research shows private school SAT-takers' GPAs rose 3.25 to 3.51 (8%) between 1998 and 2016, while those at suburban public schools rose from 3.25 to 3.36. Urban public schools, however, saw only a paltry increase from 3.26 to 3.28.
- According to Harvard Graduate School of Education Human Development and Psychology program director Richard Weissbourd, the grade inflation in private and suburban public schools is likely due to pressure from aggressive parents concerned about their child's chances at being admitted to selective colleges.
While it may alleviate pressure from aggressive parents, the consequence of grade inflation is that it ultimately places lower-income urban students attending schools that may have fewer resources at a disadvantage in their own post-secondary ambitions. As The Atlantic notes, this is especially problematic with more colleges and universities weighing GPAs more heavily than entrance exam scores. Such exams are now optional for admission at a number of institutions, and even though some schools try to account for the possibility of GPA inflation, those numbers factor into "selectivity" metrics used in popular higher ed rankings.
In the context of high school achievement, it's also worth noting NPR's investigation of inflation in 2015. That multi-month investigation involving reporters from 14 stations found questionable tactics like mislabeling students, finding ways to remove them from the books, and easing graduation requirements employed from the district to state level, allegedly undermining real progress schools had made with long-term efforts to improve.
- The Atlantic Why Suburban Schools Are Inflating Kids' Grades
Follow Roger Riddell on Twitter