Maxrad's Comments

Just FYI: While stirring, the "compositional" part of
Taps isn't exactly a compositional tour de force. The traditional military bugle, which is keyed in G, only has five regular notes, written in ascending order, (low C), G, C, E, G'. More accomplished buglers can usually manage a high C or beyond, but it's not part of the traditional repertoire. Taps uses just four notes, G, C, E, G'. There's only so much you can do with them.
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larryv, the practice of scaling grades is nothing new. It's called "grading on a curve, and is consistent with the earlier practice of ranking students in each class and assigning grades by rank. In practice, the ranking system can be set so 80% pass, or 90% or whatever.

With a curve, the arithmetic is a little more complex, but you can arrange it so the number who pass is most anywhere you want less than 100%(by varying the "shape" of the "curve"), and remember the "average grade" on a curve is not necessarily the median on which the curve is based.

So when we talk about grade inflation being the result of ensuring that some given percentage of the class passes, it ain't necessarily so.
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How interesting it is that when scholastic indicators (in the form of college grades) go up, it’s taken as an indication that we’re all becoming stupider. And when they go down (in the form of SAT scores)…we conclude the same thing.

It's actually worse (or better) than the article suggests, when you consider how much more of the population (per captia) goes to college now than in 1940. If you're of the "grades as an absolute" persuasion, you'd expect grade *deflation,* as we've seen with SAT scores (and which has happened solely for that reason, not because Americans are getting dumber as certain Conservatives have suggested...which shows if nothing else, that they majored in Calumniation instead of Statistics).

Even if grading on a curve, the median, of course, ought not to've changed.

More interesting to me is that that the net inflation over 70 years is just about 20% overall, but while it's 17.5% for public institutions, it's a whopping 27% (!) among private schools.

This in turn suggests that since the main reason for the existence of private colleges is provide a mantle of superiority for the children of the privileged classes, that their grade inflation as a function of actual student accomplishment (prime example, our former president) is far higher.

But since the graph didn't track grade performance on a per capita basis, we may never know. And of course, since the curricula are so different now than 70 years ago, it's all pretty much meaningless anyway.

My personal theory is that the introduction of women and minorities to the cathedrals of the rich simply means that college students are now 17% smarter (if not more so ) overall than they were in 1940, and that the change in grades is not evidence of inflation at all. A rising tide, after all, lifts all boats.

The only thing that’s actually getting stupider is the media-consuming public.
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