Academic common room
Institutional pressure towards grade inflation, external examiners say grades too high!
underestimation · 30/05/2018 15:58
Anyone else experienced this? We are under very heavy pressure towards grade inflation at my institution. This year I convened a course for which assessment was based on a piece of coursework. The report has come back from the external examiners and they are suggesting that the marks are too high. I now have to write a report for the exam board but what on earth do I say? Yes, you are right the marks are too high, but awarding high marks is my explicit instruction from management? It's a bit of a conundrum!
ncfail87 · 30/05/2018 16:49
Reduce the marks and refer managers to the external. Or, reply politely to the xternal that standards will be reviewed of course next year and thank them for their comments - they rarely interfere with an individual module. Up to you.
underestimation · 30/05/2018 17:44
OK thanks nfail87. I mean potentially this is a case of external examiners doing exactly what we need in order to maintain standards. And could give me the rationale to mark more accurately next year.
eggsandchips · 30/05/2018 23:37
I too have experienced pressure to inflate grades. Back in the day it was HARD to get a first. I think it's more about KPIs now and keeping the 'consumer' happy regardless.
Thespringsthething · 31/05/2018 19:16
We have had the opposite problem, the externals feel we don't give enough high grades and so there aren't enough firsts in some subjects. I do believe there's been grade inflation (stats bear this out) so I feel for you. I'd be personally quite upset if my marks were deemed out by the external and I would bring them into line with their recommendations either this year if you can still move them or definitely next year. Where is the pressure coming from and how explicit is it?
underestimation · 01/06/2018 10:13
The pressure for grade inflation is explicit and is coming from the top. We were suffering in the rankings. Our students don't have fantastic grades on entry on average and they were apparently not making enough improvement during their time with us. Initially this was blamed on us being poor teachers and we were threatened with all sorts of stuff (including loss of autonomy) if we didn't improve the quality of our teaching. It was tiresome and quite infantilising, the idea that all the academics were naughty children who didn't care about teaching. A couple of years ago management just told us explicitly that we don't give enough 2:1s and firsts and we have to give more. So that's what we have done. It's awful. But there were celebrations last year because overall grades had gone up - and so did our NSS scores etc. It's a joke, really.
eggsandchips · 01/06/2018 11:07
@underestimation your experience is identical to mine! It's a bit of a joke really.
nakedscientist · 02/06/2018 11:20
Yes same here, a sick joke. Devaluing real achievement, inflating grades, reducing the value of UK HE, poor policy, short term gains, will hit them in the face in the end, when it's too late.......same old same old....
Tell the higher ups that you have to heed the external comments, make some suggestions for next year, in reality make a reasonable compromise.
I hate the NSS, I could go on and develop a reasonable, informed evidenced argument for why, but I think this audience doesn't need me to!
eggsandchips · 02/06/2018 19:52
@nakedscientist yes when you hear the likes of anyone can get a degree these days I cringe.
Because it's very much the case. And at the end of the day as you say everyone loses out at the end of the day. It's so bad now you get complaints if marks aren't high enough from students, even if you have spent time giving detailed fb as to why they were awarded the grade they were. Worst thing is though, is that the powers at be would rather not risk the NSS and therefore sacrifice integrity , saying oh well, here you go, a first for you. The entire situation annoys me greatly. And I can't see if changing.
moimichme · 07/06/2018 14:25
Same situation at my university, sadly. The externals this year said they thought our marking was fair, given the current trends...they privately said pressure is on with grade inflation for them, too. The NSS and 'student as consumer' mindset is one of several reasons I'm considering leaving altogether, despite having a decent position with a permanent contract. But that's another thread!
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