Term of Award

Spring 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Abebayehu Tekleselassie

Committee Member 1

Linda Arthur

Committee Member 2

Paul Brinson

Abstract

The following case study examined the existence of grade inflation at one high school in southeastern Georgia, South High School. This mixed methodology research study examined grade inflation from two major perspectives, student data and teacher data; thus, creating a quantitative and qualitative research study. Triangulation in data collection was used to gather information about 160 seniors and 76 classroom teachers, which offered greater insight into evidence and perceptions of grade inflation. The standardized test scores of students and their GPAs were correlated to determine the extent of the relationship between GPAs and SAT scores and between GPAs and End of Course Test scores. Correlation analysis was also utilized to determine if such relationships depended on race or gender. In addition, a survey examined teacher responses to statements about grading standards, standardized test scores, and grade inflation. The researcher also conducted individual interviews with teachers to ascertain their perceptions of grade inflation and the possible causes of its existence. The conclusion of the quantitative portion of this research study (student data) suggests that grade inflation does not exist at this one particular school, as strong positive relationships were found between standardized test scores and grade point averages. As test scores increased, so did GPAs; however, the qualitative portion of this study (teacher data) suggests that grade inflation exists on a daily basis at this school. Through both the teacher survey and through the interviews, teachers expressed that they perceived grade inflation existed due to a number of reasons. The contradiction of the results reveals the difficulty in definitively proving that grade inflation exists, as the definition of grade inflation and the assessment tools used to gauge it may be problematic. Yet, the information gained through this study, especially teacher perceptions, revealed valuable information about grading policies in one southeastern Georgia high school.

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