Hiram’s recent posting are especially disappointing to me. I like to fantasize that on other campuses, college is still noble, pure, true, virtuous, etc. And one day soon, we will replace the bastards in charge here, with champions from elsewhere—who will arrive one day here to purify the place…….. So when I read that fellow CMers share my misery, I fear that we will hire more of the same bastards—just with more power and at higher salaries.
We feel intensifying pressure to address grade inflation. The admins tell us that grades are too high. Then we get emails with press releases that mostly go unnoticed that our standards are ever increasing and thus our students are better than ever. Better students than we had before means that………the grades must go down? I am too dense to understand the logic.
What I do understand is as the faculty is expected to be challenging, tough, demanding, etc, the admins are getting soft.
Here, a student may “retake” a class s/he has failed, and the first grade is “excluded.” As in removed, gone, erased. Like hitting the reset button on a video game, one may simply start over. And now the admins are considering “academic bankruptcy.” Can one “clear” a record? Clearing the record isn’t a true record, is it?
Yet I sense that we’re already on our way.
Just last week I received an e-mail message from the Registrar’s Office that a grade that I assigned—a final grade of F for a student who failed the essays and the exams—“has been revised to a grade of W.” By whom, I wondered. Quickly I looked up the student’s online transcript to find that all of her grades from three semesters were now grades of W. With those three semesters of failing grades gone, the student now has a GPA high enough for her to apply for graduation next semester. I must mention that two weeks before I received the change in grade email students applied for Spring 2013 graduation, so I assume that some one noticed that with all those grades of F changed to W. . . .
A second student—who was one of my successful students in a special freshman section of Brass Instruments One in Fall 2009--failed my section of Tuba Playing One in the Fall 2010 semester for simply not attending classes and handing in assignments. As her academic advisor, I noted with regret that she had failed all of her Fall 2010 classes; talking with a colleague, I learned that she hadn’t attended that class either. However, when I prepared for the advising appointment she made but didn’t keep, I discovered that her entire Fall 2010 semester was gone. No grades, no record—as in removed, gone, erased. She signed up for full loads in the Spring 2011 semester and in the Fall 2011 semester, and once more she failed all of her classes.
A third student who is a veteran has not passed a single class in two years. Her advisor in student services contacted me about the “F” she received for Tuba Playing One; I explained that the grade reflected her attending class once—late in September, the last day of attendance that we are strictly required to record for all failing grades. The advisor replied by challenging my records. Was I sure that the student hadn’t attended classes? For the student assured the advisor that she had indeed attended all classes and turned in all assignments. I had to confirm my records because they didn’t correspond to a student who hasn’t earned a passing grade in two years. I suspected that she was going to be dismissed, yet she is currently enrolled for five classes and scheduled to take five classes in the Spring, including my Tuba Playing Two course. I guess once we “re-record” all of her grades to W, she’ll be okay.
By the way, as a good Turtle should, I have mentioned these cases to my senator who has bought them to the senate. We still await a reply.
So a new misery for me: My class, my preparation, my diligence, my care, my attention, my observation, my work, my standards, my tests, my comments, my help, my assignments, my assessment, my expertise, my determination, my duty, my professional measure--but I now never have the absolute FINAL say about the final final grade.
Are we teaching our students that the most “appealing” students (at least two definitions apply) are the students we retain and graduate? Is the ability to convince a person making a huge salary of one’s sincerity and suffering with the plea “my bad, so give me a do-over” a key skill to develop?
Doesn’t replacing a grade of F with a W or simply wiping out an entire semester of grades inflate students’ GPA?
Is someone, anywhere, instead of researching grades and student evaluations researching grade changes, retention rates, graduation rates, and scores in the (often bonus) college rankings in connection to administrative salaries and promotions?