Inflated Grades, Increasing Graduation Rates, And Deflated Test Scores

Published January 17, 2024

Those who are obsessed with equity are doing great damage to American education.

Grade inflation is rampant and has been so for many years. Back in 2011, an in-depth study by three Ivy League economists looked at how the quality of individual teachers affects their students over the long term. The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years, and, using a value added approach, found that teachers who help students raise their standardized test scores have a lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates, greater college matriculation, and higher adult earnings. The authors of the study define “value added” as the average test-score gain for a teacher’s students “…adjusted for differences across classrooms in student characteristics such as prior scores.”

But to those who believe in equity über alles, quality is an afterthought, and many states are ditching any objective criteria for entry into the teaching field. In California, teachers traditionally have had to pass the ridiculously easy California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) to gain entry into the profession, but the test is now under fire.

Is it because the test is a snap and needs to become more rigorous? Hardly.

Christopher Davis, a member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, claims that standardized testing causes “disproportionate harm to people of color.” In an equity-driven statement,John Affeldt, managing attorney at Public Advocates, agrees, saying, “CBEST is a barrier for educators of color,” and thinks the test should be eliminated.

New Jersey is no better. The state currently requires that candidates for teacher certification pass a basic skills test called the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, which demonstrates proficiency in reading, writing, and math. However, the racially obsessed state teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, believes that abolishing the basic skills test will “eliminate unnecessary barriers” to the teaching profession and promote equity. The union called on Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to sign a bill to end the requirement.

Mona Davids, founder of the New York City Parents Union, puts the situation into perspective. “Eliminating the [test just] to increase the number of unqualified, unprepared Black and Latino prospective teachers is the most racist and destructive action taken under the guise of diversifying NY’s teachers. We, Black and Latino parents, do not want teachers who cannot pass a basic literacy test. We don’t care about the color or race of the teacher, we want highly effective teachers teaching our children.”

On the subject of student testing, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results show that nationwide, 29% of 8th-graders are proficient in reading, and just 26% are proficient in math. In acknowledging this pathetic state of affairs, the National Education Association blames the test, insisting that testing children is racist. “From grade school to college, students of color have suffered from the effects of biased testing.” The teachers’ union goes on to say, “Since their inception a century ago, standardized tests have been instruments of racism and a biased system,” and that “students of color, particularly those from low-income families, have suffered the most from high-stakes testing in U.S. public schools.”

But if you can’t get rid of the exams, the equity fanatics simply inflate grades as a way to hedge against the evil tests.