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A's on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SATs flounder

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Replies to: A's on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SATs flounder

  • mohammadmohd18mohammadmohd18 Registered User Posts: 448 Member
    ^ @mstomper Another factor could be that some teachers push their kids very hard in AP classes (key word, some) and the students hate them for it. I didn't exactly have a soft spot for my Calc teacher and how mind-numbingly difficult his class was, but I got a 5 on the AP. It seems kids either get easy As in AP classes but fail the tests, or the opposite.
  • obscuredfactsobscuredfacts Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    edited July 25
    A major factor here is the availability of many different levels of the same topic area in most high schools. Students select classes carefully with an eye towards choosing classes they know they will do well in. Then, faced with prospect of getting a B (oh no, heaven help him/her) they can usually drop down a level. The upshot is that many students have never experienced a grade in the B range. They tend to have an inflated impression of their own abilities. And, when they get to college, they often flip out if they sense their grade isn't going to be in the A range. Some will barter, plead, lie, beg and if nothing else works, complain. Some will badger the prof endlessly, begging for EC or a break or a deal. It is pitiful/pathetic/sickening. More and more, the students appear as fragile little snow flakes who feel their lives are ruined if the prof is unwilling to be pressured to make up an A grade for students who have not earned them. Pathetic!

    Basically with few exceptions, grades are meaningless. That is true in high school and in college. Many profs will hand out A's to avoid confrontations. There are a few rigorous colleges with faculty member who don't allow students to badger but most do.
  • applejuice007applejuice007 Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
    edited July 26
    Grade inflation + parents doing kids' work + an overwhelmingly stressful academic scene + easy curriculum passed off as difficult + self-important students + stressed out and tired teachers who lack motivation because of low wages = a lot of straight-A students.
  • Studious99Studious99 Registered User Posts: 710 Member
    Grade inflation is definitely a problem. It seems to be especially bad in history, government, and econ. How do you evaluate "critical thinking" in a content-focused essay or a speech? In my English classes, grammar and conventions provide a standard to aim at. But many learning targets in history are so soft and subjective that it's very difficult for teachers to give anything less than an A or B.

    For example, here is a state education standard for American history:

    "Analyze the history, culture, tribal sovereignty, and historical and current issues of the American Indian tribes and bands in Oregon and the United States."

    It would be very difficult to mark a student down if they have clearly completed the assignment/essay/response.
  • ekdad212ekdad212 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Forget GPA, adcoms should be looking at class rank.
  • Studious99Studious99 Registered User Posts: 710 Member
    @ekdad212 Yes, class rank may be more telling than absolute GPA. But it still doesn't tell the whole story. Not all high schools are created equal. College admissions has the difficult task of finding which students from low-performing high schools have the capability to compete at top universities, and which lower-ranked students (but still top 5-10%) from competitive privates and large UMC suburb schools will be an asset to the university.
  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool Registered User Posts: 515 Member
    Yesterday at 11:49 pm edited July 25
    A major factor here is the availability of many different levels of the same topic area in most high schools. Students select classes carefully with an eye towards choosing classes they know they will do well in. Then, faced with prospect of getting a B (oh no, heaven help him/her) they can usually drop down a level. The upshot is that many students have never experienced a grade in the B range. They tend to have an inflated impression of their own abilities. And, when they get to college, they often flip out if they sense their grade isn't going to be in the A range. Some will barter, plead, lie, beg and if nothing else works, complain. Some will badger the prof endlessly, begging for EC or a break or a deal. It is pitiful/pathetic/sickening. More and more, the students appear as fragile little snow flakes who feel their lives are ruined if the prof is unwilling to be pressured to make up an A grade for students who have not earned them. Pathetic!

    Basically with few exceptions, grades are meaningless. That is true in high school and in college. Many profs will hand out A's to avoid confrontations. There are a few rigorous colleges with faculty member who don't allow students to badger but most do.


    ^^ I completely agree with this. But, I am dumbfounded when I see colleges stating that "The best predictor of college success is high school grades". I guess maybe it's the anti-SAT types with this logic? We have been to two highly rated high schools. At one school, it's easy to get A's, even in AP classes - and top students there took 10-14 AP courses. At other school, even the top students get some B's, the Honors classes are very hard - some harder than AP classes - and kids take maybe 6-8 AP courses.

    Also, I have a friend who has all A's first two years of HS, in standard classes. The kid (and mom) can't handle the thought of a B, so takes easiest classes. Our HS is dropping class rank for this reason, and also for the other side of it, where the weighted averages give artificially inflated GPA's.

    So, IMO, not all A students are created equally - not within a school, and not across different schools. But then there's so much focus on "rigor", which is driving many students into a stressful high school experience.
  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool Registered User Posts: 515 Member
    Today at 11:49 am
    Forget GPA, adcoms should be looking at class rank.
    Flag Like Helpful Reply Share on Facebook

    Many HS are moving away from using class rank.
  • tangentlinetangentline Registered User Posts: 1,107 Senior Member
    I definitely think the new SAT is a lot more balanced than the old 2400 with the section with pointless grammar rules and unfavorably short time for the essay being equivalent to math.

    I did not do as well as peers because I felt that studying for the test is a boring waste of time especially as a future engineering major that rather be studying circuits or solving problems (and would attend a low tier college anyways for financial and other reasons). If the test actually tested practical real world concepts I would be more inclined to study and do well on it...
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 4,465 Senior Member
    edited July 27
    @sunnyschool

    They are moving away, but it is informative. What you should do is go to the collegeboard website and look at GPA vs. classrank brackets at elite schools. It is definitely kind of imprecise because less students report it, but I notice a difference in culture at some elite schools (especially outside of the top 10). Some have student bodies that constantly complain and whine about the rigor or claim that there is grade deflation when there really isn't (go look at some threads, seriously), and some, you rarely hear this claim from students who attend (maybe prospectives will make a thread asking, but responses are usually, "you get out what you put in"). It seems that Schools with high % of top decile GPAs from HS, and a similar amount of 3.75+ (unweighted I am sure) are more prone to whining when things get tough. Basically the more direct the correspondence, the worse it can get. I wondered why students at my school never felt particularly strong about the workload or exam difficulty, and kind of just did the work. Well, the top decile performers based on GPA are a lot more evenly split between 3.5+ and the 3.75+ brackets. Students may be more used to fighting for a grade at the school they attended/being more challenged, so it is unsurprising that students are more content when challenged in the college setting. My school (Emory) also has a surprising amount of STEM (or other) instructors teaching courses similar or higher than the level of instructors at very top tier schools (most of the top 10s) despite its SATs certainly being lower than most top 25-30 schools (and these instructors are revered as opposed to trashed or dreaded). So this is kind of mysterious. The SAT is over-rated when distinguishing between students once scores beyond a certain threshold (like comparing two elite test-takers versus the national average is just hard. Like 1350+ or even 1300+ students...anything beyond this is basically looking for difference in MC test performance and hopefully most exams at an elite university are multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank or True/False. When it is all said and done, an AP/IB test with a better mixture/more even distribution of item types should be more predictive. Hopefully even HS exams given by the instructors are a better distribution than an SAT. The SAT is a nice IQ proxy, but is a different assessment type than used in an ideal college or HS classroom so is kind of misaligned with certain types of educational goals which may include deeper thinking and learning, which it is difficult for MC to test adequately. I believe the MCAT and LSAT are some of the best MC exams). A mixture of the resilience/numb to challenge, AP/IB scores/performances (this makes sense because students choose a major in college and APs are subject specific like....grades), and serious exposure to academic fields of interest (like if a student has conducted research or has done a project in whatever they like while in HS) could be more predictive, but these are things usually not discussed. Usually on chance me threads, it is just GPA, SAT, amount of APs (and maybe the scores, but this section gets little discussion unless the AP/IB load was low), and a laundry list of ECs in scattered/random areas. I tend to look for a trend and see if any of the ECs were more co-curricular in nature or academically/intellectually related just to gauge potential in whatever they claim they want to major in.
  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool Registered User Posts: 515 Member
    edited July 27
    @bernie12 I can't follow what you are saying, especially without any paragraph breaks.

    All I know is, we have been to two public high schools. One gave easy A's - yet the kids are having trouble at selective colleges. The other made kids work very hard, and master complicated problem solving and writing, for the A- grade; and Bs were common even for strong students (C's for weaker students and encouraged to drop out of Honors). Yet those kids had higher SATs and were far more prepared for college courses - and excelling in top colleges and universities.

    We have friends at prestigious prep schools. They work very hard for B's. Yet they excel in highly selective colleges, because they were well prepared and challenged (some say the college work is easier than what they did in HS). They may be at the 50 percentile at a top prep school; but the 50 percentile student there is more likely a far better student than the 50 percentile at a good suburban HS.

    The other thing is - I have friends with "A students" taking only standard classes at the competitive high school...3.9 unweighted but very low SAT/ACT. IMO, the A's are given out too readily in standard courses. Oh, let's give an A for these lower expectations, little homework, easy tests, and make the kids "feel good" that they got A's! I don't buy it. Those are not *real* "A students". That's why I don't think rank is apples-to-apples...and SAT/ACT is an equalizer.
  • ShrutiSapphireShrutiSapphire Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    edited July 27
    Unlike my class, where kids neither have the As nor the SATs.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 4,465 Senior Member
    @sunnyschool : I am saying the two scenarios you describe have influence on the academic culture and attitudes at selective schools. If students come from high schools where A's, even in AP/IB were easy (and where super high GPAs directly correspond to super high class-ranks. As in, say all folks 3.9+ unweighted are 10% and 3.75+ are top quarter), they are more likely to struggle or at least whine when things get rough at a selective college. If the college recruits more students from rigorous schools where say a 3.6 or 3.5 unweighted starts the top decile or top quarter, these students are used to seeing lower grades or at least fighting for higher ones. They will complain less when challenged at a selective college, regardless of SAT scores.


    I am also saying that AP/IB experience may be more useful as it is a better assessment in terms of the type of items. It looks more like an idea college exam which are usually not almost purely multiple choice, fill-in-the blank, or labeling.
  • MassmommMassmomm Registered User Posts: 2,566 Senior Member
    This just highlights the value of standardized tests, as maligned as they are. They are not perfect, but they do level the playing field somewhat.
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