Forced Distribution Grading

Mitchell Langbert

A colleague who teaches at Baruch College (the City University of New York's business school) forwarded an e-mail from the Baruch administration reminding faculty who teach certain core courses such as Marketing Foundations that they must follow a forced grade distribution of   "20-30% A or A-, 40-50% B(+/-) (and) 25-30% C+ or lower".  This curve is reminiscent of one  under which I've labored as an adjunct at the NYU Stern School of business, where A's are limited to 35%. Grade inflation is characteristic of a McDonaldized higher education system under which students are customers for a degree product.  But the solution is not intensification of the McDonaldization by inappropriately forcing distributions. There is no reason to assume that learning is normally distributed. All of the students in the class may learn the material well.  The quality expert Edward I. Deming, who says that he gave all A's when he taught at the NYU Business School, points out that it is difficult to know the underlying productive abilities of a group of employees (or students) and that performance may be uniformly as well as normally distributed. Imposing a normal distribution on a uniform population is  capricious, adds variance to the system and so is disruptive in Deming's view.

  • Share

Most Commented

September 5, 2014

1.

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

"[PTSS] provides an evidence-proof explanation that lifts away moral responsibility from those engaged in self-destructive, anti-social, and criminal behavior."...

September 21, 2010

2.

Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....

April 9, 2018

3.

How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?

Download an updated PDF that lists all of the Confucius Institutes in the United States, along with information on who to contact if you have concerns....

Most Read