Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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They’re All Above Average

The latest issue of Ashland University’s student newspaper, The Collegian, announces that nearly fifty percent of the university’s student body ended up on the Dean’s List last semester. To his credit, our Provost, Dr. Robert Suggs, recognizes that something is deeply and terribly wrong.

Discussions - 13 Comments

I’m wondering why all the students are not on the Dean’s List. How are you failing them in helping them achieve their potential? What about their self-esteem? How do you think they feel when their name isn’t on the list? Sadly, these are the kinds of questions that teachers learn in their "Education" departments and prep schools flagellate themselves over. Public schools in Columbus, OH, make dozens of students the "valedictorian" if they achieve a 4.0 or higher. So much for our meritocracy - welcome to the Repulic of Equality.

So much for our meritocracy - welcome to the Repulic of Equality.

We were warned of this about 150 years ago:

"Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom. " -- Alexis de Tocqueville

Prophetic, isn’t it?

There is an easy fix: put a quota on A’s. Of course, when enrollment drops the policy will get reversed.

Here’s an idea: how about giving students the grades that they earn?

Steven, how could even suggest such a rational idea! Didn’t you know that all parents care about are grades. They don’t really care if their child actually learns anything.

Seems like this school should just adopt the philosophy of that school that Ward Churchill attended to get his bachelors and Masters. No grades. Grades are evil. Competition is evil. Just like that evil economic system, capitalism.

wouln’t that solve the problem ( toungue firmly planted in cheek ).

Makes you feel like you’re in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, doesn’t it? "All the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

Hey! I am definitely good-looking and definitely not on the Dean’s list . . . heh.

I may be on the minority on this topic, but just because nearly 50% of the students were on the Dean’s List doesn’t mean that it’s a ‘bad thing.’ If you are at a competitive school your students shouldn’t necessarily reflect a normal distribution curve with few A’s and mostly C’s. These students should be naturally skewed towards A’s and B’s.

Now as long as the students are earning their grades, that shouldn’t be a problem. It doesn’t seem ‘right,’ ‘wise,’ or ‘superior’ to force them into grades that they did not earn, just to make it look ’okay.’

Now if you want to make classes more difficult that may be another discussion, but simply having a skewed distribution curve, in my opinion, does not mean it’s a bad sign.

I believe there is something to the concern here. As Dean I would like to think that I am challenging the ablilities of the students. Once students have certainly earned their grades and appear on the Dean’s list, we can look and ask if there needs to be change in the future. Not to try and fail kids, but to challenge them to think harder--to think "outside the box".

Who should students be compared to when assigning %ile grades? The group in question? The historical group in question? The superset of the group’s peers? The historical superset of the group’s peers? Or everyone?

Even when I "receive the grade I earned", something arbitrary takes place. Scores on a test don’t have an objective correspondence to a grade. And, in reality, my score on a test isn’t a very precise indicator of my knowledge (accurate, maybe, but not precise). And who’s to say that I’ve learned anything?

To answer the top questions, I think a university should maintain a standard policy on who the current batch of students are being compared against, before assigning grades. The [insert field] world uses historical comparisons, so we compare historically. We already realize that there are differences between those who go to university and those who don’t, so comparisons shouldn’t be made to everyone (otherwise grades will naturally be inflated).

The point of the original post is that a grade should mean something. It is possible that, choosing certain standards above, having half the population on a deans list doesn’t indicate anything; but it is likely that the situation indicates that grades are losing their meaning.

AU is a diploma mill--plain and simple! That’s all that it is. You pay the tuition you get the grades and the diploma. It does not matter if you cannot construct a sentence.

Dear Reader:
Ashland University IS a degree mill. If you go there and do not get an A you cry and the Dean or Provost will sympathize with you and help you get the grade you PAID FOR!!
How do I know???? I taught in 5 departments there for almost 10 years.
Its a pathetic place in a pathetic town with a "Conservative Stink Tank"
called the Ashbrook Center.
Close your window when driving down Route 71, the smell is not the corner restaurant, its the UNIVERSITY!!!!
Best Regards, Bob Cikraji

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