UH sticks to tough grading
While attending a university, you’re going to come across the viewpoint, “I pay tuition, so I deserve a better grade.” Unfortunately, the University of Houston is no different.
This mindset frustrates students and teachers who believe that those with good grades should earn them through aptitude and hard work. It may be hard to believe some students would even entertain the idea that grades should come easy as a result of tuition, but Bauer Professor Michael Parks says such ideas exist.
Parks has personally dealt with angry students using the inane argument and he states that school should be a meritocracy, not a democracy — grades should be earned by merit and not by what the student wants. After all, employers and graduate schools don’t want students who buy good grades; they want students who earn them. A university is an institution of education, not a shopping center.
Recent trends show that universities may be giving students higher grades as time goes on. Richard Schiming of Minnesota State University said in an article that the reasons vary from pressure to retain students, to driving up teacher evaluations, to faculty attitudes and mission changes.
There is a graph that a former Duke professor created showing the rise in GPA of different schools through time, located at www.gradeinflation.com. With a median change of about .14 per decade, UH has increased grades at a rate lower than the average university, making it on the site’s Sweet 16 of Tough Graders.
Locally, grades at the University of Texas have increased at .6 points over a span of about 20 years. Nationally, top schools like Duke, Dartmouth, and Harvard have increased around an entire letter grade for more than 45 years.
It appears that UH doesn’t bend to the pressures as much as other universities. This could be good, as some could see that a student excelling at a consistently challenging school would carry some weight behind it. However, when you think about the competition that UH faces from prestigious schools that curve their grades, the refusal to budge might harm new alumni seeking job opportunities.
Comparing prestigious schools reporting increasingly higher grades to up-and-coming schools like UH staying relatively steady; some might jump to the conclusion that students at universities with grade inflation are harder workers and better job candidates than UH graduates.
UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator considers this a reflection of the overall quality of education available at UH and points out that Houston is the only Texas school that made the “16 Tough Graders” list. Although some employers may not know much about the trends in grade inflation and may take the person with a higher GPA between two equally qualified candidates from different schools, the issue has started to get some attention from publications such as Texas Insider and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
UH could receive a boost in reputation as the problem of inflated grades becomes more widely known. The more people who start to recognize its grading consistency, the better chance UH has to climb the national rankings.
Jacob Patterson is a business senior and may be reached at [email protected].