Daily Debriefing

by Ashley Blum and Emily Fletcher | 7/14/11 10:00pm

A new grade inflation study published in Teachers College Record revealed that As constitute 43 percent of grades awarded to students at four-year colleges and universities, a 28 percent increase since 1960, Inside Higher Ed reported. The study was conducted by Stuart Rojstaczer, a retired professor of geology, civil engineering and environment at Duke University, and computer science professor Christopher Healy of Furman University. Rojstaczer and Healy used historical data from 200 colleges and universities and contemporary data from 135 schools. They found that private universities award a higher percentage of As than public universities, and southern universities award a smaller percentage of As than schools in the North, Midwest and West. The study found that such high grade inflation is problematic because it makes it more difficult to distinguish excellence, which forces graduate schools and employers to focus more on standardized test scores, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Although the economic recession affected enrollment patterns at four-year colleges and universities, the effect appears to be less significant than people had predicted, according to the July 2011 Signature report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Recession-fueld enrollment increases at community colleges peaked in 2009, but declined beginning in 2010. There was not a significant effect on whether students enrolled as part-time or full-time students during the recession. The study also revealed that the recession's effect varied among geographic regions in the United States. Enrollment patterns were less affected in the Midwest than in other regions, and students in the West had a higher incidence of attending two-year public institutions, the study said.

A study published in the Journal of College Admissions found that nearly 60 percent of Chinese undergraduates at American colleges and universities used agents third-party consultants paid partly on commission by universities to recruit international students in the college admission process, Inside Higher Ed reported. The study adds to a growing debate in higher education about the ethics of using agents. The board of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, which publishes the Journal of College Admissions, recently recommended that the organization strengthen their stance against the use of agents, citing concerns about conflicts of interest, fraud and the benefit to students, Inside Higher Ed reported. The study found that agents paid by the student, college or both most often help students with the visa application process, choosing schools and initiating contact with universities, according to Inside Higher Ed. Some worry that more agents than are currently recognized are engaging in unethical behavior, such as writing admissions essays and recommendation letters, according to Inside Higher Ed.

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