Grade inflation is readily accomplished by watering down course content, a phenomenon known as dumbing down. This produces a negative correlation between the GPA and the extent of learning as measured by standardized assessment tests such as the ACT, SAT or GRE. High GPA's accompany low assessment scores and vice versa as shown on this web site under Problems with Letter Grades. However, scores between different standardized tests are consistent with one another. If one is high, others are also high.
To attempt a comparison between the GPA and standardized test scores, information was requested from twenty-one traditional land-based community and junior colleges in the state of Missouri . The survey (shown through this link) was constructed to obtain objective assessment data and the GPA from different programs of delivery including traditional day, evening and weekend, off-campus, as well as internet based delivery. The extent to which institutions provided this information was used to gauge the level of accountability.
Missouri's community and junior colleges were contacted in early March, 2005 by mailing the survey form along with a letter of introduction explaining reasons for the survey. A second letter was sent to each institution in April, again asking that the form be completed and returned. After receiving a letter from one of these institutions refusing access to such data, the remaining twenty schools were contacted by a third letter in May, again asking that the survey be completed and returned. Two of these responded with positive, even hopeful replies. The remaining eighteen ignored all three letters of inquest.
There is no alternative but to conclude that accountability to the public at large does not exist in Missouri's community and junior colleges. Assessment results cannot be compared between different institutions nor can they be compared between different avenues of delivery, day, evening, internet, etc. Results from assessment efforts cannot be obtained by members of the public. Comparisons between the GPA and standardized test scores cannot be made. Again, this holds true for different institutions but also for different avenues of delivery within a particular institution. Whether the academic transcript gives any indication of which avenue of delivery coursework is completed through is not known, and, in all likelihood, cannot be ascertained.
Missouri state law requires that institutions of higher education submit accountability reports to the Department of Higher Education. The Department then submits these reports to the Governor and to the state legislature. Members of the tax-paying public are excluded. Parents and students cannot determine which of Missouri's colleges and universities still provide a credible education, one that will prepare graduates to effectively participate in the global economy. Institutions keep this type of information to themselves.