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At 11:54 AM 1/6/98 -0800, Roger wrote:

>What does the following quote from your recent email mean to you?:
>
>"Only 3 of 46 studies reviewed in 1971 showed a significant relationship
between GPA and performance; half the studies showed no correlation
whatsoever."

I know that many of those of us who have been involved in some kind of
grading system are having to wrestle with the questions you have raised.
For one thing, your question,

>Would all the studies have used similiar or consistent performance measures?

I think is really at the core of how those of us in academic situations use
grades.  The studies done ten or so years ago showed that there _weren't_
consistent performance measures then being used in the grading.  And even
today, I am not sure how consistent college grading is with any performance
measures.  Ohmer, whom I cited in my last posting, seemed well aware of the
complexity of the grade "problem":
        "There is certainly no single recommendation for improving the grading
game" Ohmer wrote; "the magnitude of the grading system, the complexities
of subject matter, smugly recalcitrant faculties, and the varying aims of
colleges and universities signal the necessity for several approaches if we
hope to make even a dent in the academic armour surrounding the grade issue."

There were other indicators of problems with grading consistency.  In the
period from 1965 to 1980, average GPA's rose nationwide, while SAT scores
fell.  By 1990, as I recall, U.S. high school students had the highest
confidence in their ability to do math of all the industrialized nations,
yet had one of the lowest scores in standardized math tests.

Although employers and graduate schools still seem to give a certain weight
to the meaning of GPA's, many (most?) faculty still have no consistent
standard, other than an arbitrary "percentage" -- of what? -- often
performance in unstandardized tests and quizzes.  Often, "academic freedom"
is cited as a reason not even to talk about this difficult issue.  I think
it might feel threatening at first to have to admit that, as St. Augustine
said, "I measure it: But what it is I measure, I do not know."

There are exceptions to this.  The medical field and certain others have
definite performance standards for competency.  National councils have been
working on standardized competencies for English, math, etc.  I have not
seen any data recently about how many colleges have adopted
performance-based assessment, or how many of those colleges use that
assessment in the assignment of grades.  One excellent summary of the move
towards consistent performance assessment is in the first chapter of
Marzano, Pickering, and McTighe's _Assessing Student Outcomes_ (Alexandria,
VA: ASCD, 1993).


                                Neal Steiger
                      NH Community Technical College
                        379 New Prescott Hill Road
                            Laconia NH  03276
                phone:  603-524-3207   fax: 603-524-8084
          "Even a planarian worm can learn."  --Eunice Cornish