Gateway Gazette

Shocking Data on Grade Inflation Shows Importance of Standardized Testing

EDMONTON, AB: New data on grading throughout Alberta’s education system shows the NDP government needs to maintain standardized testing and develop a strategy to address grade inflation, the Wildrose Official Opposition said.

According to new analysis from Postmedia, there is a growing gap between passing grades awarded through teacher-awarded marks and diploma exams in five of 12 subjects. What’s happening in the classroom is not being reflected in diploma exam results. Teacher-awarded marks in the excellence range have increased in eight of 12 courses while remaining relatively unchanged in diploma testing.

“This growing gap should set off alarm bells in Education Minister David Eggen’s office. It’s important that students and parents are getting a true reflection of their abilities and where they can improve,” Wildrose Shadow Education Minister Leela Aheer said. “We need to stop the steady move away from standardized testing across our system and the NDP need to get serious about developing a strategy to reduce what appears to be widespread grade inflation.”

Alberta has dropped the Provincial Achievement Test (PAT) in Grade 3 and implemented the highly problematic Student Learning Assessments.  Through the curriculum rewrite, parents are worried that Grade 6 and 9 PATs will be written out of the new curricula as well.  In addition, the government reduced the weighted score for Grade 12 diploma exams to 30 per cent from 50.  While this new data does not address all factors that lead to higher teacher-awarded marks, it does point out a very troubling trend.

“The increasing gap between teacher-awarded marks and standardized testing results indicates one failing of our current education system and could lead to more students unprepared for university,” Aheer said. “We want to make sure we are doing all we can to help our students succeed, and addressing the causes behind grade inflation has to be one of the first steps we take.”

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