Test curves protect flawed system

by Elpin Keshishzadeh

With the semester coming to a close, students are struggling to hold onto their GPAs. This is the time when calculations are made to determine the final exam grades students need in order to pass the class.

In times of such undeniable stress, any scraps of sympathy thrown our way in the form of extra credit or a curve comes as a divine get-out-of-jail-free card.

The desperation of passing the Spring semester with flying colors is blanketing the flawed grading system of some college classes. There is no doubt a grade curve has saved nearly all of us at one point or another, but what if these free passes are acting as a bandage for poor class structures?

[quote]A grading curve is intended to maintain a class average, but if that average is circling around the low 60s, are the students still the problem?[/quote]

If the majority of the class ended up with a poor grade, it would raise many red flags about the nature of the course syllabus. So to keep that from happening, some professors curve their poorly structured exams to represent an even spread of scholars and slackers.

As much as students despise exams, they’re intended to measure how well students are assessing and applying the information they absorb in lectures. So if the structure of the exam is failing to measure that variable, a curve acts as a bandage solution—an excuse to avoid the reality that the set-up of the exam could be the problem.

It’s no secret the diploma we work everyday to earn is not cheap, so if the exams that are measuring how close we are to that goal are flawed, the curves hurt students more than they help. Students don’t complain because in many instances it’s this same curve that has saved their academic standing, but we deserve to get the education we pay for.

We’re not paying for average. We’re paying to be the graduating class capable of those executive positions and impressive business deals. We’re paying for greatness, and it’s not attainable by being treated as average.

When professors throw out specific questions on an exam, that means they acknowledge the poorly structured question was the cause of the low response rate. That instance is always appreciated by many students. But this isn’t always the case with grade curves.

Next time a professor tries to hide the fact that their exams aren’t serving a proper purpose with a two-to-three letter grade curve, ask yourself if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Dedicating an average of 40-hour a weeks to our academia, the results of sleepless nights spent studying should be met with an accurate measurement of our knowledge. If I knew the result of a majority failing an impossible exam would give me my A or B regardless, I’d spend my semester sipping margaritas at the beach instead of using concealer to hide the bags under my sleepless eyes.

[quote]Personally, I’m prouder of the B I earned with tears and hard work than the A I received because the rest of the class found the exams just as ludicrous as I.[/quote]

Your time is valuable, and you should hold your professors to the same standard they hold you to.

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