Counterpoint: Low standards in the classroom cheat everyone

By Leanne Pantone
April 11, 2002

Like my fellow point counter-pointer Ryan, I do feel that students should receive the grades that they earn. However, if almost everyone one, or close to the majority, in the class is receiving an A, then there is a problem.

According to my professors, the grades of the students in a class are supposed to represent a bell curve. That is, for every x number of As, there should be a proportional number of Fs. The grades in the middle, from B to D, should denote the shape of a parabola that looks like a bell, hence the name bell curve. These grades are the majority of the grades and accurately represent the standards of the class.

A graph like this shows that the students in the class are being challenged and must work hard for their grades. It is also a little more realistic of the way that a class is supposed to be representing the professor. I believe that if students have a proportional number of As and Fs, then the professor is doing a good job teaching the students. I know that this is not and cannot be the only evaluation measure taken, but I think it is still significant.

The GPA of the college as a whole is also supposed to be represented as a bell curve. It is unusual for a college to have an average GPA that is above average. Apparently Cabrini’s average is exactly that, above a 2.0. According to this statistic, the students at Cabrini are getting excellent grades.

This could mean two things. The first is that the students here are truly intelligent. I am in no way saying that this cannot be true, but it is unlikely. The second is that the classes are too easy, or the standards are too low. Since this case seems to be more probable, I feel that the professors should raise the standards of the class.

Like my fellow counterpoint might suggest, I am not saying that I want the students here to fail. I am simply saying that no one wins when standards are low and the majority of GPAs are high.

A prospective employer might look at these statistics of a college and, based on that alone, think that the standards are low. That sends them the wrong idea that the students are not motivated and that they do not possess the material that is required for the job position.

Also, an employer might not hire that student because he or she might feel that the student would not be able to handle something really challenging.

To me, college is supposed to be something that students persisted through. All nighters and an overwhelming sense of relief come to mind when I think about the amount of work that is needed to get done simply to pass. By that I mean that it should not be so easy that the majority should be attaining an above-average GPA.

It should be that students have to really work hard for their grades because the classes were that challenging. If that is actually the case at college, then yes the natural curve of the class and college GPA would be a representation of a bell curve.

Professors do not win with low standards. I feel that if a professor has an outstanding number of high averages in the class, then he or she is not really pushing the students. Grades should be based on the quality of work and not simply on the fact that it is finished and the students are in class.

Low standards also neglects to represent the professor in the correct way. It suggests that the professor is lazy and not motivated to teach the class. Since I cannot imagine any professor being in such a career without the love of the profession and class, I feel that higher standards would erase stigma.

So yes, give the students the grades that they earn. However, raise the standards so in the end everyone benefits.

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Leanne Pantone

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