A Sample Transcript




"When the solution is simple, God is answering."


--Albert Einstein

"Statistics denotes average as x. Simply sum the individual values
and divide by the number of values in the set. It's real easy."


--The Initiative to End Grade Inflation



The transcript shown below is presented as one solution to perhaps the three most vexing issues now facing higher education. These include grade inflation, grade disparity, and declining motivation toward learning. The transcript provides for both internal and external assessment of student learning. Individual performance scores are shown course by course together with the class average and range for these courses. The class median is readily obtained from the range. These are its internal assessments of learning. Class averages are then compared with an external evaluation of academic ability, in this case the ACT. It is well understood that the ACT may not be the best possible external assessment to validate or invalidate the class average, but the ACT along with the SAT are now in widespread usage and can readily be recruited for this purpose. It is not the individual test that is so important; it is the external validation of class averages course by course through some external measure that is considered critically important. This is especially true given the increasingly widespread use of the internet as a means of delivering higher education.

Upon adoption of the plan presented, grade inflation ends immediately. Without grades there can be no grade inflation. The possibility of numerical inflation replacing grade inflation is held in check through the process of normalizing class averages against class average ACT (or SAT) scores. The use of a ranking system which sets the class average equal to 0 removes incentive to inflate academic performance beyond reality. In addition, clear and accurate feedback is given to students showing both their academic strengths and also their weaknesses.

When academic assessment becomes sufficiently well defined by the accreditation agencies, content of all courses throughout higher education will be detailed in master syllabi. This is the first step in removing grade disparity. Most likely, master syllabi already exist in the vast majority of cases. Course content is then distributed to all students in the form of course syllabi which convey clear and meaningful expectations of the extent of learning to be accomplished. This is normally based on textbook content as well as additional academic work detailed in the course syllabus. This practice is now well established. Objective evaluation of academic performance by individual instructors can then proceed in an environment free of incentives to inflate performance scores. This is not in current practice. Only in such an environment can the issue of grade disparity be brought under control.

Incentive toward learning is expected to improve by the removal of extrinsic motivation in the form of letter grades. Noted education writer Alfie Kohn repeatedly refers to the body of Social Science literature which points in this direction. Given the volume of studies that Mr. Kohn refers to, the issue should be defined as theory rather than as individual research findings. Desire to learn is intrinsic.

The transcript shown below meets all three goals for academic assessment as defined by The Higher Learning Commission. In addition, it meets the two additional goals of removing grade disparity and providing much improved feedback to students. In doing so, it is preferable to the current situation, a situation that has become circular in that grade inflation feeds grade disparity which in turn feeds more grade inflation. Under the plan presented faculty become facilitators of learning. Currently they attempt to enforce the legitimacy of the grade scale as well as meet vague and ill-defined demands of the accreditation agencies for academic assessment. Academic assessment has been in existence for approximately 15 years and still does not formerly recognize the issues of grade inflation and grade disparity. For further problems associated with use of grades follow this link.



SAMPLE

Academic Transcript                                       
Student:  John Doe
Academic Major:  Chemistry


External Evaluations: National Test Results:

Student
Score
Current Institutional
Average
National Average
ACT252021
General Education Examination84%70%72%
Academic Major Examination86%83%84%


Internal Evaluations: Academic Course Work

First Semester

CourseClass Average ACTStudent ScoreClass AverageClass RangeStudent Percentile
Rank
Instructor Evaluation
Basis for Percentile Ranking:
Class Peers / Institution Wide
Student Ranking in Class:
Peer Ranking Only
Biology1788%46%21%-90%+14%Institution Wide97.8%
Algebra2387%64%37%-90%+23%Class Peers96.7%
History1989%77%50%-95%+12%Class Peers93.7%
Chemistry2686%85%81%-89%+12%Institution Wide96.6%
Sociology1895%86%77%-97%+09%Class Peers97.9%
Semester Averages20.689%71.6%53.2%-92.2%+14%96.54%

Current Institutional Average For All Classes: 74%
Current Institution-wide Positive-ranking Points Available: 26

Second Semester

CourseClass Average ACTStudent ScoreClass AverageClass RangeStudent Percentile
Rank
Instructor Evaluation
Basis for Percentile Ranking:
Class Peers / Institution Wide
Student Ranking in Class:
Peer Ranking Only
Chemistry II2665%65%25%-78%-08%Institution Wide83.3%
English Lit.2179%76%40%-80%+03%Institution Wide91.9%
English Comp.2073%76%42%-85%-03%Class Peers85.9%
Calculus2492%83%60%-92%+19%Institution Wide100.0%
Semester Averages22.777.2%75%47.4%-87.9%+02.7%90.27%
Cumulative Averages21.6%83.1%73.3%47.4%-87.9%+08.3%93.4%

Current Institutional Average For All Classes: 73%
Current Institution-wide Positive-ranking Points Available: 27


"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein




Explanation of Events Occurring on the Academic Transcript:

First Semester

Biology. The class ACT average, unknown to the instructor, is below the institutional ACT average. The class does not meet the performance expectations set by the instructor as defined in the course syllabus. For this reason the instructor ranks students in the class against the current institutional average. John acquires +14% because his score is 88% and the current institutional average is 74%. The average in Biology is 46%. A student with this average score receives a -28% because of the institutional wide ranking invoked by the instructor. This must be made up in future course work providing strong incentive away from low academic performance.

Algebra. The instructor likely teaches a rigorous course and expects a lower class average because of it. The class average falls within guidelines presented in the syllabus, and peer ranking is used. The possibility exists that the instructor is inferior in teaching. This possibility can be detected from the transcript because of the low class average. Evaluation of teaching can be done by peer faculty.

History. Again the class average falls within guidelines set in the course syllabus. Peer ranking is invoked.

Chemistry. Students exceed the expectations of the instructor as given in the syllabus. The external evaluation in the form of the class average ACT is consistent with this higher class average. The instructor moves the class to institutional wide ranking and the average student in chemistry acquires +11%, (85% - 74%).

Sociology. Sociology is practicing numerical inflation. This is evident by comparing the class average ACT to the institutional wide ACT and also the class average to the current institutional average for all courses. Although John scores well in Sociology, John gains his lowest percentile ranking points. In this case the proper response occurs. The faculty member is notified that numerical inflation hurts students.

Second Semester:

Chemistry II. Either the instructor has unrealistic expectations from the class or is not good at teaching. If the former is the case, students should do well on this portion of the academic major exam. If the latter is the case, they likely will not. Early detection of the situation can occur, and the instructor can be notified that peer ranking may be more appropriate in the case due to the high class average ACT score.

English Literature. Again peer ranking seems appropriate for the same reasons occurring in Algebra and History above.

English Composition. John is somewhat below average. Peer ranking is appropriate given the class average and the class ACT average. John is at the 85.9% level in the class range, (obtained by 73%/ 85%). Closer examination of the English component of the general education exam would add greater clarity to John's command of English, including writing ability.

Calculus. The instructor sees that student performance is high and uses institutional wide ranking. John is at the top of his class as shown by his ranking of 100%. His score on the mathematics portion of the general education exam is also expected to be high. Class averages for both the ACT and student performance are also above institution wide scores. Ranking seems appropriate.

NOTE: The personal evaluation of the instructor may appear in some other format than that of peer versus institutional ranking. One alternative is simply to show what numerical class average is expected of the class by the instructor.

Because of value added through the educational process, the ACT (or SAT) likely has validity of only limited duration, perhaps the first three or possibly four semesters. Truman University in Kirksville, MO has experience with this issue. The Initiative to End Grade Inflation intends to explore this. The Academic Profile Test is currently in widespread usage to assess the general education component of the curriculum and can be used for the normalizing process. A much improved General Education exam focusing on the key areas of English, Mathematics, and Computer Science can also be used.

Additional information can be added to the transcript as deemed appropriate. One possibility is a record of class attendance.


Variations are possible. One is to expand the external evaluations. The example given is based on the State of Missouri's Credit Transfer Policy - see The State of Missouri. In this case the Collegiate Learning Assessment or CLA is included. The test measures critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing ability.

External Evaluations: Objective Test results

Assessment
Scores
Student
Score
Current
Institutional
Average
Missouri
State
Average
National
Average
ACT25202121
General Education
Skills: CLA Entering
1310115511651163
CLA at 60 hours1405121512051208
Value Added+95+50+45+45
General Education
Knowledge:
Social and
Behavioral Sciences
84%70%73%72%
Humanities and
Fine Arts
81%72%72%70%
Mathematics93%68%67%65%
Science91%64%66%65%
Academic Major
Examination
GRE: Chemistry
86%77%75%73%



Variations in the internal evaluations are also possible. One is ranking against class peers versus the state-wide average for each course. In this case the state of Missouri is represented.

Internal Evaluations: Academic Course Work

First Semester

CourseClass
Average
ACT
Missouri
Course
Average
Student
Score
Class
Average
Class
Range
Student Percentile
Rank
Basis For Ranking:
Class Peers/State Wide
Student Ranking in Class:
Peer Ranking Only
Biology1765%88%46%21%-90%+23%State Wide97.8%
Algebra2365%87%64%37%-90%+23%Class Peers96.7%
History1975%89%77%50%-95%+12%Class Peers93.7%
Chemistry2665%86%85%81%-89%+21State Wide96.7%
Sociology1879%95%86%77%-97%+09%Class Peers97.9%
Semester
Averages
20.669.8%89%71.6%53%-92%+17%96.7

Current State-wide ACT Average: 21
Current Institutional Average For All classes: 74%
Current institution-wide Positive Ranking Points Available: 26

Ranking can also be done against the state-wide average for each course as shown below. However, this can be expected to produce numerical inflation as individual classes strive to score above state average by any means possible. This ranking method is not recommended.

Internal Evaluations: Academic Course Work

First Semester

CourseClass
Average
ACT
Missouri
Course
Average
Student
Score
Class
Average
Class
Range
Student Percentile
Rank
Basis For Ranking:
State Wide
Student Ranking in Class:
Peer Ranking Only
Biology1765%88%46%21%-90%+23%State Wide97.8%
Algebra2365%87%64%37%-90%+22%State Wide96.7%
History1975%89%77%50%-90%+14%State Wide98.9%
Chemistry2665%86%85%81%-89%+21%State Wide96.6%
Sociology1879%95%86%77%-97%+16%State Wide97.9%
Semester
Averages
20.669.8%89%71.6%53%-92%+19.2%97.6%

Current State-wide ACT Average: 21
Current Institutional Average For All Classes: 74%
Current Institution-wide Positive-ranking Points Available: 26