To the Editor:
I would like to offer two observations in response to Perry A. Zirkel’s Commentary “Grade Inflation: High Schools’ Skeleton in The Closet” (March 28, 2007). First, college-admission offices should not be underestimated in their ability to seek the truth about grading systems in high schools. In most admission offices, personnel are assigned to a territory, and their job is to become familiar with the programs at each high school in their region, including grading practices and policies. Each high school sends a profile of its academic program, which should include statistical information about grades and testing, with each student’s application or transcript, in order to put the student’s record in context. If admission officers still need clarification, they will call schools’ guidance offices.
Secondly, it is true that many independent schools do not report a rank of their students. But there are independent schools, such as mine, that report far more revealing information than a standard class rank. My school gives a grade distribution per course, which accompanies a student’s grade in a specific course, so the admission committee can see exactly where our students fall among their peers in performance. This distribution also indicates the rigor of the grading in the course. This is not an uncommon practice in independent schools, which pride themselves on building an honest relationship with college-admission staffs.
Anne Macleod Weeks
Dean of Academic Life
A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week as Giving Grade-Inflation Prevention Its Due