Harmon: Grade Inflation and Informed Citizens

With this post, we begin the process of posting from the archives of the first edition of the Federal Observer. The whereabouts of the author of the following column is unknown at this time. Theresa Harmon was a long time contributor to the early edition of the Federal Observer. Keep in mind that seventeen years have gone by, but in reality – little has changed. ~ Ed.

January 7, 2002 ~ We are constantly told that the state of “public” education is improving and that the test scores prove this is so. If you look at ACT and SAT scores, you might be inclined to believe this propaganda. If you check into the percentage of students taking “honors” classes in your local high school and receiving A’s, you might also be inclined to believe the rhetoric however, if you take the time to check into grade inflation and when and why scoring curves on tests such as the ACT and SAT were redrawn, you might be forced to an entirely different conclusion.

For instance, SAT scores have dropped 73 points since 1960 but, due to a little subversive maneuvering on the part of the educrats, the American public is blissfully unaware of it. You see, in 1985, every SAT test taken automatically had 100 points added to the overall score. That”s right, automatically added!

Now students get an automatic 100 points just for writing their own names and if that weren’t bad enough, students may now use calculators on the math portions of the SAT (and yet, they are STILL not making the scores in math that were seen during the 1950s and 1960s)! The educrats called it “centering”.

I would liken it more to camouflage and it goes a long way toward making little Johnny and little Susie feel better about them selves. Whatever it is that grades represent, more students are getting A’s than ever before.

In 1984, 28 percent of all students taking the SAT reported an A average, according to Wayne Camara of the College Board. In 1999, Camara says, 39 percent of SAT-taking students reported an A average, an 11 percent increase over 15 years.

This is tantamount to instilling a false sense of self-worth and it isn’t confined to primary and secondary education. According to Harvey C. Mansfield, a professor of government at Harvard University, “Grade inflation has resulted from the emphasis in American education on the notion of self-esteem. According to that therapeutic notion, the purpose of education is to make students feel capable and empowered. So to grade them, or to grade them strictly, is cruel and dehumanizing. Grading creates stress. It encourages competition rather than harmony. It is judgmental.

Professor Mansfield now hands out two grades to his students; one, the inflated one prescribed by the administration and the second one, the actual grade earned. Guess which one goes in their college transcripts.

The inherent problem with the ideology of grade inflation is two-fold. For starters, it keeps parents from questioning the current processes being followed in public schools. When parents see report cards filled with “good” grades, they automatically assume that all is well and that their children are learning and being graded on appropriate material. The student, also happy with these “inflated” grades, feel worthy of those grades and, hence, generally conclude that they are doing great and learning what they need to know. An even more problemic factor in all this “inflation” is that the actual material now being covered is far less academically challenging than only two generations ago. Has anyone seen any of the “old” eighth grade tests that students of a few generations ago had to pass just to go on to secondary education?

Do your own research and decide whether our schools are better or worse after the government became involved in our schools and began dictating subject matter and curriculum and just WHY things are heading in the direction that they are.

When people feel good about themselves and the world around them, when they aren’t taught to think and reason things through, when they certainly aren”t taught real and COMPLETE history, they are much more likely to blindly accept the current state of affairs and not realize that (to quote Mel Gibson”s character, William Wallace, in the movie “Braveheart”) they’re “missing their God-given right to something better“. That “something” better is freedom. Real, not imagined, freedom. Freedoms and rights given to us by our Creator, not doled out on a whim by some government agency. Real freedom comes with personal responsibilities attached. It’s a fact of life. When students are handed grades that haven’t been earned or when they must only cope with simplified subject matter, they grow up with an entitlement attitude and expect others to help them maintain these “good” feelings and are often more concerned with safety nets than with opportunities.

A populace that is largely unaware of the inherent differences among types of government along with the histories of each type can have no basis for questioning authority figures who make bad decisions. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for those of us who DO realize just how much has been given up during the last few decades and how much more we stand to lose under the guise of “safety”, to stand up, be counted and work toward getting the federal government out of its unconstitutional role in “education”.

Maybe, if this Nation”s schools were COMPLETELY returned to local (read: parental) control, we could avert this subversion of our values and beliefs and get back on track to being the Constitutional Republic that our Founders tried to assure for us. Until, or unless, this happens, I must admit to having fears regarding the continuation of our once free Republic.

~ the Author ~
Theresa Harmon is a conservative, Christian, southern lady, wife, home-schooling mother of three. Originally from Kentucky, now resides in Tennessee. She became involved in affairs regarding education three years ago when she began doing research on “School to Work” and realized where it came from and what repercussions it had for our Nation”s freedoms, liberties and way of life. Theresa decided to “fight back” instead of going along to get along – and hasn’t looked back. She is the founder of the Wilson County Parents Coalition and a frequent contributor to the Federal Observer.

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