Grading curve should be no more

There should be a cohesive grading system across the University.

Meghan O'Connor

Since I have been a college student, I have dealt with the fear of grades at the end of the semester, as we all do. Not only am I vying for my professors’ approval, but I’m also competing against my classmates to see who will set the grading curve for the exam.

Grading on a curve means that instead of having the grades be set at a pre-determined scale, the grade is set by the highest score in the class, and the other scores fall in comparison with that.

Having curved exams is an unfair policy to have on a college campus. Say you are the student who just so happened to be in a classroom with the four students who are at the top of your class. Your exam curve is going to be much more difficult to achieve than someone who is in another classroom, even if it is with the same professor.

Curving grades can also be detrimental to those who have grades that are right on the border. It all depends on how their grade ends up being compared to the mean. If you are on the low side of the mean, your grade will go down, and if you are on the high side of the mean, your grade will go up. This ends up both hurting and helping students.

Grading is one of those things about college that I wish I could change. Being that I am a measly junior standing undergraduate student, I won’t assume I have much clout in the discussion, but it is a discussion that needs to be had nonetheless.

College is competitive enough without adding in the element of actually competing against your classmates to achieve an A grade.

Many science, technology, engineering and mathematics major courses have dramatic curves to their exams. This is arguably to help weed out the competition in some of the most competitive fields. Professors make exams exceedingly difficult in order for only a few to be successful leaving others to ride the curve and come out of the exam with a B or higher.

Why not just write the exams at the level in which the students are at and avoid the struggle of having to curve the exams? If the students who fail a difficult test wind up with a B on the curve, then they would more than likely achieve a B on an exam written at their level.

I have heard constant complaints around campus about what is referred to as the “Carlson curve.” This is the way in which grades are accumulated within the Carlson School of Management.

Each Carlson class based on its course level has a median grade level. If you hit the median marker, you will achieve a B or a similar grade in the class. Last time I checked, “median” or “average” was a C grade.

Additionally, it is not uncommon for courses to include group assignments. These projects usually have one student performing all of the tasks, leaving the others to simply reap all of the benefits without having to actually do any work.

Maybe those of us who always end up carrying the team when in an assigned group should just stop. But there is always the fear that if one ceases to perform the tasks, nobody else will step up.

Obviously, life is about working alongside others and adapting to various situations while making the most out of it. These situations compound on the concept, however, that a student’s grade is affected by one’s peers.

Clearly, grading is an ever-changing and a somewhat flawed system. Throughout my three years as a college student, I have experienced both positive and negative aspects to various grading styles. Yet I feel that the University as a whole needs to have a grading system put in place that sustains grading equality across campus.