A new study shows that K-12 students in the state of Washington experienced massive grade inflation during the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, leading to an even greater decline in education quality than previously believed.
As the Daily Caller reports, research from the American Institutes for Research’s (AIR) Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research revealed that while the number of Washington students receiving grades of A and B increased by as much as 20% in 2020, many of these same students still scored poorly on state tests.
According to the report, A grades for math increased from 32.9% to 35.5%, while A grades for English rose from 56.3% to 60.6%, between the spring and fall semesters of 2020. In the same time period, A grades in science rose from 32.5% to 59%. By the 2021-2022 academic year, GPAs saw increases in science and English, while math scores have continued to rise to this day.
“There is widespread speculation and some evidence that grading standards have changed over the course of the pandemic, making higher grades relatively easier to achieve and less reflective of objective measures of learning,” the study’s authors wrote. “It is possible—even likely—that shifting grading standards give parents, guardians, and students a confusing or inaccurate picture of what students know and can do, especially considering pandemic-related learning losses.”
Despite the higher grades, students in 2020 did not reach the appropriate test score levels that previous years achieved, thus revealing a massive discrepancy between the grades they were given and their actual knowledge.
“For instance, a student who got an ‘A’ in Algebra 1 was predicted to be in the 73rd percentile of the test distribution in 2015-16, the 68th percentile in 2018-19, and the 58th percentile in 2021-22,” the report reveals. “In Algebra 2, a student receiving an ‘A’ was predicted to be in the 64th percentile in 2015-16, the 58th percentile in 2018-19, and the 54th percentile in 2021-22.”
The artificial inflation of grades was most likely in response to the state’s official “do no harm” education policy in 2020, which declared that it would not give failing grades to high school students. Another factor in the grade inflation is a rising rate of student absences, as the report found that some districts saw as many as four times more students marked as absent, despite 40% of them still getting a grade of B or higher in the main subjects.