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Meic Goodyear

The English Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove (the top education minister in the government)recently told a parliamentary committee that every school must exceed the national average.

Transcript of Education Committee in Parliament… (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmeduc/uc1786-i/uc178601.htm)

So it's not just dodgy practice at Harvard. Innumeracy is actual government policy on this side of the pond.


Getting a large range of student evaluations would be suggesting that you are doing the right thing. The top students like something that they can push themselves and learn, the bottom students don't like to be pushed and tend to be critical. I'm a bit worried that I got all good evaluations for one subject this year, and I think it meant that I set the course a bit easy. The year before I made the mistake of making the last assignment a bit hard and a couple of students went berserk with the evaluations. With statistics I like to make some of the assessment work open-ended but it just is too much for some students.

On Meic's comment, politicians have been attempting to bring everyone above the average for a long time.


How do we know that there are "too many" A's? In a sample of students already known to be at the tail of the distribution in terms of academic ability and often effort, why is it
unreasonable on its face for them all to be getting A's?


My memories of grade inflation at Harvard include a guy from the Lampoon who showed up in the Science Center one afternoon, beating a drum and shouting "More D's! More F's! Stop Grade Inflation!" while wearing a sandwich board saying the same thing. For sheer laughs, it beat the snot out of div, grad, curl, and all that.


My experience of grading at Harvard was that if any lecturer wanted to give a grade BELOW A, then the lecturer would be hauled over the coals and would be strongly challenged. This extended to students who had not attended lectures, not submitted work. Etc

I'm not aware if the same attitude was extended regardless of the source of the student's place at Harvard (ie via a legacy gift by some rich relative, or whether they got in on their own merit). Perhaps there is a feeling that good grades have been "paid for"?

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