Volume 96, Issue 60
Thursday, January 16, 2003

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Grade inflation questioned
Universities lack compensation method

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

With the higher influx of students applying to university as a result of this year's double cohort, concerns are being raised about the evaluation of grades by admissions offices.

Grade inflation – or deflation – comes into play because some high school curriculums are considered to have tougher grading schemes than others, making it difficult to fairly assess student grades.

"Grade inflation has been a question and issue for decades. It becomes more complicated this year – the year of the double cohort," said Chuck Cunningham, director of communications and former Registrar at the University of Guelph.

"Teachers have been suggesting there's been a grade deflation," he added, noting concerns with the evaluation process are constantly fluctuating.

Roma Harris, Western's Registrar, said they rely heavily on teachers in high schools to convey the best information about the performance of their students.

"We don't make an adjustment on grades," Harris said, explaining grades are taken at face value. She said Grades 11 and 12 are also considered in early admissions.

"[Grade inflation] is an issue, and we are aware that people are concerned," Harris said, adding this year has not seen major grade inflation and they are not planning to make any adjustments to their admissions system.

"In terms of assessing candidates, the University of Guelph takes all grades at face value," Cunningham said. But, like Western, Cunningham noted Guelph takes into account a variety of other factors in the decision-making process.

"Should we reward or punish students from different schools? It's very debatable," Cunningham added.

According to Arnice Cadieux, the executive director of public affairs for the Council of Ontario Universities, their organization has not looked at the issue of grade inflation on a large scale.

"There has not yet been any committee formed through the COU to deal with this problem," Cadieux said.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has a similar stance with regards to grade inflation.

Léo Charbonneau, media relations officer for AUCC, said the association is removed from the problem of grade inflation and it is not something their organization deals with in particular.

Both organizations said individual universities determine the best way for their institutions to deal with grade inflation.

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