Point: Bell curve determines the grades of students

By Ryan Mulloy
April 11, 2002

We are coming up on the end of the semester, kiddies. How hard have you worked? I have worked just as hard as the next person, and, quite frankly, I cannot wait for grades to roll around. It is a nice pat on the back and I am always looking to feed my ego.

Last week though, I was hit up with an interesting topic. That topic is grade inflation. Let me explain the issue, so you can all get a handle on it (and so I can figure things out for myself).

People give out their tests and assignments, students do the work and grades are given. Easy, right? Wrong. Teachers have to give a certain amount of As and B’s, all the way down to the amount of failures they hand out.

I do not understand this process in the least. I could do a job that earns me an A-, but since Dr. Teacher Man has to give out a certain amount of B’s, then that’s what I get. What if I have been working on a paper all semester and I earned my A? I have been spending more time in the library than I have with my own family, and then the grades come and I fall short of my goals.

I know we do not all reach our goals in our lives. It is a given that you cannot always get what you want, but I think you should get what you deserve.

What is the deal with a bell curve? I mean, it is a graph. I understand that much, but is it not just theory? Theoretically, if the work is at a certain level and one student gets an A, there must be some boob in the class who gets an F, right? This insults me. It is like the old saying, “if someone jumps off of the Brooklyn Bridge, does that mean you have to?”

The bell curve is like some day some guy or girl said that there had to be some theory for grading and for some reason people thought he or she had to be right? If you know who or why this is so, drop me a line and re-explain the bell curve. I think that every theory you try to put into practice does not always work out. Sometimes, with the exception of my opinions, people are wrong.

Throughout the first two years of my high school career, I got poor grades. I was not on the honor roll.

Then I got a failure warning in English, and that was the end of that. I started working as hard as I could and I was on the honor roll for the last two years.

I hit rock bottom but I came back and have been working hard ever since. But what if I had not been so lucky as to have people talking about how many F’s they had to give?

Had I not turned around and gotten recognition for my work, then I most certainly would not be here right now. I would be a waste at some other school, not doing my work and failing,

It’s my firm belief that while standards should be high for classes, a student who works should never be discouraged that he or she is not that intelligent just because the teacher needs to balance a graph. If the case is that a school has given out a large amount of As for years, then something is going on.

But what about when a school has been doing really crappy and grades have never been that good. Let us look at the bell curve again. What if for years, very little As are given (as well as F’s) and the school is just average.

Eventually, people will want to pick up the slack. If you know you are not up to the standards of intelligence that you want to be, you work. End of argument.

So you work to change things, the grades on the curve are unbalanced (As and B’s perhaps) and everyone is finally doing their work as best as they can. Why yell conspiracy? What I think people should be saying about it is far more encouraging. “Congratulations.”

Ryan Mulloy

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