Friday, March 26, 2010

A Placeholder For Some Grading Research I'm Working On

Below are some data I prepared for a news publication on the topic of grade distributions at 39 schools over ten to as much as sixty year intervals.  After I handed them this list, they expressed disappointment in what I had done and said they would do it themselves.  The only problem with that is that they didn't even have the high school algebra skills necessary to do it themselves.  After they expressed their disappointment, I told them they couldn't use my data or work, that I was pulling out of this little project. 

The publication will come out soon.  It will be interesting to compare the data below with what they come up with.  My guess is that it will be almost identical.  Some of the schools won't be on their list, but almost all will.  My guess is that they will have appropriated my work almost entirely.  But that's just a guess.  I could be wrong.  I hope I'm wrong.  But I'll be curious as to how it all ends up.

At any rate, it's actually interesting data.  I think it's worth exploring.  Chris Healy started looking at the compilation of data below (he actually found the preponderance of the data) when I sent it to him and he came up with some neat observations.  I'm starting to add to those he made.  I think it makes a nice story about the evolution of grading patterns.

Here's a nice summary graph that shows some key points. 




You can see the evolution from C as the most common grade to B as the most common grade to (since the mid-to-late 1990s) A as the most common grade.  You can see the post-Vietnam wane in grade inflation, the reduction in D's and F's caused by Vietnam (they really did stop flunking students as often), and then the firm floor of D's and F's that lasted until the mid-1990s or so.  Cliff Adelman likes to point out as an argument against grade inflation that there are still plenty of poor  students.  He's right.  But it's also true that grade inflation hasn't caused all boats to rise equally.  The C student of the 1940s is now a solid B student.  The B student of the 1940s is now a solid A student.  But D and F students haven't benefited as much from grade inflation.  What was true in the 1940s still seems to be true today:  if you don't show up and take tests, you still flunk the class.

You can also see that Adelman's transcript data line up well with this compilation.  They should.  It shouldn't matter if you get your data from large numbers of individual transcripts or from bulk school statistics.  They should both tell the same story if they are done right.  The two sources line up even better if you adjust Adelman's data to account for  likely SAT differences in the populations.  You can also see why Adelman's data don't see grade inflation: his sample times aren't appropriate.  His circa 1974 and 1984 snapshots cover a period of post-Vietnam grading stability and slight declines.  His circa 1984 and 1994 snapshots cover more of the post-Vietnam era and then only a little bit of the current wave of inflation.   It's as if someone sampled for hurricanes along the East Coast in April through July for one year, and then declared that the East Coast has no hurricanes

If I have time, I'll finish a draft paper up in the next two weeks.  In the meantime, here is this placeholder with some of the data and one rough chart.



School Number Year %A %B %C %D %F
1 1977 26 35 27 7 5
1 1987 22 35 28 9 6
1 1997 35 36 19 5 5
1 2007 40 33 17 5 5
2 1997 56 35 8 0 0
2 2007 66 28 5 0 0
3 1997 41 31 18 5 5
3 2007 37 28 17 5 13
4 1978 22 30 27 9 11
4 1988 23 30 26 8 13
4 1998 25 28 21 7 20
4 2008 30 30 20 6 14
5 1998 35 43 18 3 1
5 2008 45 41 11 2 1
6 1978 21 30 28 13 9
6 1988 24 35 28 8 5
6 1998 33 40 18 5 3
6 2008 45 40 11 2 1
7 1958 13 32 35 13 7
7 1968 13 33 35 12 6
7 1978 24 38 28 8 2
7 1988 25 43 26 5 1
7 1998 33 43 18 4 1
7 2008 41 42 14 3 1
8 1998 37 34 20 6 3
8 2008 42 34 16 5 3
9 1997 39 47 11 2 1
9 2007 50 40 8 1 1
10 1969 19 44 28 6 2
10 1978 31 40 21 5 2
10 1988 37 39 18 4 2
10 1998 54 32 11 2 1
10 2008 57 30 10 2 1
11 1998 38 37 18 4 3
11 2008 45 36 14 3 2
12 1998 37 38 18 4 3
12 2008 42 38 15 3 2
13 1947 14 35 42 8 2
13 1957 19 33 36 10 2
13 1967 19 37 33 8 3
13 1977 24 41 28 5 2
13 1987 27 42 25 4 1
13 1997 36 43 17 3 1
13 2007 43 40 13 3 1
14 1998 38 25 19 7 11
14 2008 37 24 18 6 14
15 1997 46 43 9 1 1
15 2007 55 36 7 1 1
16 1998 40 41 14 3 2
16 2008 49 37 11 2 1
17 1998 39 37 17 5 2
17 2008 41 36 15 4 3
18 1958 19 35 31 12 4
18 1967 23 37 29 8 3
18 1978 31 36 24 7 3
18 1988 31 36 22 7 4
18 1998 38 34 18 5 4
18 2008 44 32 15 4 5
19 1944 23 43 28 4 1
19 1959 25 43 27 4 1
19 1967 26 49 22 2 1
19 1977 31 51 15 2 1
19 1987 36 50 12 1 1
19 1997 51 41 6 1 1
19 2007 64 32 4 0 0
20 1997 41 36 17 3 3
20 2007 45 33 15 4 4
21 1978 37 42 15 3 2
21 1988 39 44 12 3 2
21 1998 47 43 8 1 1
21 2008 41 49 9 1 0
22 1997 30 50 16 2 2
22 2007 33 51 13 2 1
23 1998 27 40 24 7 3
23 2008 29 38 23 6 3
24 1968 20 36 32 9 3
24 1998 28 38 24 6 5
24 2008 34 37 20 4 4
25 1999 26 44 24 3 4
25 2008 26 41 24 4 6
26 1998 30 33 22 7 8
26 2008 37 31 18 6 8
27 1988 26 36 25 8 4
27 1998 33 36 22 6 3
27 2008 38 34 18 5 4
28 1967 14 34 34 11 7
28 1978 26 33 26 9 6
28 1987 24 31 26 10 9
28 1997 29 34 24 7 6
28 2007 34 33 20 7 6
29 1998 34 37 21 5 3
29 2008 44 35 15 3 2
30 1997 33 38 21 5 3
30 2007 47 33 14 3 2
31 1987 34 27 22 7 9
31 1997 35 32 21 6 6
31 2007 43 30 17 4 6
31 1987 34 34 21 6 5
32 1997 41 31 18 5 4
32 2007 43 32 16 4 4
33 1998 41 32 17 5 5
33 2008 42 32 16 5 5
34 1988 30 33 22 6 9
34 1998 38 36 17 4 5
34 2008 44 35 14 3 4
35 1958 11 31 40 13 6
35 1998 37 39 17 4 3
35 2008 45 37 13 3 2
36 1977 30 34 23 7 6
36 1987 27 35 25 7 6
36 1997 36 32 19 6 7
36 2007 40 34 17 4 5
37 1997 38 35 19 5 3
37 2007 53 29 13 3 2
38 1997 47 41 10 1 1
38 2007 59 33 6 1 1
39 1998 41 40 15 3 1
39 2008 47 37 12 2 1
11 School Average 1977-1978 28 37 24 7 4
11 School Average 1987-1988 29 38 23 6 4
11 School Average 1997-1998 38 37 16 4 5
11 School Average 2007-2008 43 36 14 3 4
15 School Average 1987-1988 29 37 23 6 5
15 school Average 1997-1998 38 36 17 4 5
15 school Average 2007-2008 43 35 14 4 4
All US Average 1997-1998 38 37 17 4 4
All US Average 2007-2008 44 35 14 3 4
Private US Average 1997-1998 41 41 14 3 1
Private US Average 2007-2008 49 38 11 2 1
Public US Average 1997-1998 36 35 19 5 5
Public US Average 2007-2008 41 33 16 4 5
34 School Average 1940 14 33 35 12 6
5 School Average 1950-1951 15 35 36 10 4
8 School Average 1959-1960 17 32 34 10 6
10 School Average 1970-1971 26 39 25 6 4
Adelman Transcripts 1974 30 35 24 6 4
11 School Average 1977-1978 28 37 24 7 4
Adelman Transcripts 1984 28 36 24 6 5
11 School Average 1987-1988 29 38 23 6 4
Adelman Transcripts 1994 33 35 21 5 5
11 School Average 1997-1998 38 37 16 4 5
11 School Average 2007-2008 43 36 14 3 4

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