Grade Inflation Deflates Student Achievement
By Kevin Palmer
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s proposed $3,000 teacher pay increase is not deserved by some teachers is the message of a January 3, 2019 article in The Economist, The rise in American high-school graduation rates looks puffed-up.
The article mentioned how a Washington, D.C. school district dramatically increased its high school graduation rate. It stated, “In 2012 only 56% of high-school students graduated. By 2017 that rate had climbed to 73%.” Then, the truth emerged from an audit which found “34% of all diplomas in 2017 were improperly awarded. Many went to students who seldom showed up.” The problem is nationwide.
For instance, “The state of Alabama posted a remarkable 17 percentage-point increase in graduation rates between 2011 and 2015 – has since admitted that its numbers were inflated.” In Georgia, “Credible accusations of graduation-rate inflation have emerged.” Maybe it’s nothing to see here, but according to data from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the Richmond County school district in Augusta, Georgia had a remarkable 16 percentage-point increase in graduation rates between 2014 and 2017. During that same period four high schools, Butler, Glenn Hills, Hephzibah, and Josey had an average 33% graduation rate increase.
The article suggested there is a connection between inflated graduation-rates and “the reliance on online credit recovery classes.” They are especially popular in urban high schools attended by poor and minority students, precisely the places where graduation rates have risen faster.”
Hence, educators who inflate graduation results deserve discipline, not a pay increase.