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Thread: Curving Grades

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    FORT Fogey BoBoFan's Avatar
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    Curving Grades

    My daughter entered college in August after attending a private (college preparatory) high school. She has goals that most of those she attends college with haven't yet taken the time to consider (most of her fellow classmates are just wondering when the next party will take place and when the next break will be.) My daughter has had to go the extra mile sometimes and work harder than most, but I'm so proud to say that she never gave up her dream, her main goal ...to learn and to keep achieving. She's always gave 110%, trying to be the absolute very best that she can be. Although she had five days off for fall break this past week and returned to college this past Monday, she worked her butt off about 90% of the time on her college assignments. When she returned to college, she had a test in Psychology (her favorite class), which she's interested in pursuing as a major. There were some questions that were on the test that she studied very hard for and she got correct (extra credit). Because of that, the Professor curved the grade because so many students made such low grades (20's, 30's) to her high score. Those students who missed the regular questions didn't even attempt the extra credit questions. My daughter's final grade on the test was a 76 because those extra questions were omitted and the grade was curved. She should have made a 90 +.

    Some questions I have are... Is this right? Should a teacher/professor curve grades?
    What about those who choose to study, be in college for all the right reasons, yet are shot down by a grade based on "Joe Blow's" bad performance? So is it right that Joe Blow decided to have 100% leisiure time, not study one iota and everyone's grade is altered according to my daughter's exceptional grade?

    My daughter is writing to her professor in a very respectful way and questioning her test grade.

    Whether it is Grade School or College, my question to you is...

    Should grades be curved? If so, When and Why?

    Thanks! I appreciate your input. Maybe it will help me explain things to my daughter. She's a little disgruntled and confused right now.
    Last edited by BoBoFan; 10-10-2007 at 08:21 PM.

  2. #2
    First time caller Spoose's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    At my school (university in Canada) curving grades is considered unethical and is strictly prohibited! It is the professors responsibility to prepare an exam (and prepare the students!) so there will be an even or normal distribution of marks. If an exam is written and the class average is really low (say 42%) then it is obvious that the students were not adequately prepared or the exam was too hard. If one student does exceptionally well (80 or 90% when the class average is 42%) it is extremely unfair to penalize that one student because of the poor performance of the rest of the class.

    I actually don't understand how grades are curved (the actual math behind it) but believe that it is unfair and should never happen.

    BTW, kudos to your daughter for being such a motivated, exceptional student. I would love to have her in one of my classes!
    Don't let the small things sweat

  3. #3
    Premium Member canuckinchile's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    My first question would be about class size. How big is the class? Bell curving a small class is not right.

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    FORT Fogey canadian_angel's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Spoose;2607484;
    At my school (university in Canada) curving grades is considered unethical and is strictly prohibited! It is the professors responsibility to prepare an exam (and prepare the students!) so there will be an even or normal distribution of marks. If an exam is written and the class average is really low (say 42%) then it is obvious that the students were not adequately prepared or the exam was too hard. If one student does exceptionally well (80 or 90% when the class average is 42%) it is extremely unfair to penalize that one student because of the poor performance of the rest of the class.

    I actually don't understand how grades are curved (the actual math behind it) but believe that it is unfair and should never happen.

    BTW, kudos to your daughter for being such a motivated, exceptional student. I would love to have her in one of my classes!
    Two Universities in Canada here too, and it's considered unethical, but that sure doesn't stop them from doing it.
    Here there isn't really much you can do except challenge the grade on the assignment, test, final or whatever it is. Usually when you challenge, at least with the profs, they'll adjust your grade to a better representation of what it should be because they know they were wrong and they don't want it going to the Dep't.

    Asking her prof about it is a great start. I'd suggest setting up a meeting with the prof to go over the exam. It's amazing how many percentages they'll "find" upon review.

  5. #5
    FORT Fogey BoBoFan's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by canuckinchile;2607581;
    My first question would be about class size. How big is the class? Bell curving a small class is not right.
    Classes are VERY Small! Thanks for ALL of your responses... so many right now that I need to catch up. Thanks for the input guys!
    I thought this topic would create something, just too bad that my daughter's dilemma has to be the topic. It seems to be as widespread as I had imagined.

  6. #6
    Being VIP Yardgnome's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Are they using a true bell curve or are they just curving all the grades up? In my undergrad it was not uncommon for the profs to curve the grades up and a true bell curve was not used. In my Law School classes a true bell curve is used and it really sucks.

  7. #7
    FORT Fogey BoBoFan's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    I honestly do not know what kind of curve is used, but if it looks like Hoover and sounds like a Hoover.. It probably sucks... just as curving does.
    Apparently I'm onto something here and imo I don't think it's fair.
    Keep the responses coming! Thank you!

  8. #8
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    Re: Curving Grades

    I don't really understand how your daughter's grade went from a 90 to a 76, the only curves I ever had at university were when the highest grade was bumped up to 100% and then the rest of the class was marked up against that standard. More commonly, questions that a great majority of the class missed (multiple choice) were "thrown out" which lowered the points possible on the exam, but didn't change the points earned. In both of these grades are never lowered though...
    "It is my belief, however, that the truth is generally preferable to lies..."

  9. #9
    FORT Fogey BoBoFan's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Spoose;2607484;
    At my school (university in Canada) curving grades is considered unethical and is strictly prohibited! It is the professors responsibility to prepare an exam (and prepare the students!) so there will be an even or normal distribution of marks. If an exam is written and the class average is really low (say 42%) then it is obvious that the students were not adequately prepared or the exam was too hard. If one student does exceptionally well (80 or 90% when the class average is 42%) it is extremely unfair to penalize that one student because of the poor performance of the rest of the class.

    I actually don't understand how grades are curved (the actual math behind it) but believe that it is unfair and should never happen.

    BTW, kudos to your daughter for being such a motivated, exceptional student. I would love to have her in one of my classes!
    Thank you Spoose!
    My daughter would be honored for you wanting her your class!
    She gives it her all... she received some great awards in her last year of High School. It took her three years in High School to prove what she was all about and she amazed everyone at the end (High School Graduation

  10. #10
    everything under the sun lopevian's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Well BoBo, I think grading curves stink. It is not a fair representation of any individual student. If they need to compile their stats and averages for a column on some report or whatever, that's fine, and probably helpful and necessary. But every student deserves a truly reflective, individual grade. They need to keep that separate. Good for your daughter for deciding to make her feelings known to her Professor.

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