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Honest grading, grade inflation and reputation

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  • Ehlers, Tim
  • Schwager, Robert
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    Abstract

    When grades lose their informative value because the percentage of students receiving the best grade rises without any corresponding increase in ability, this is called grade inflation. Conventional wisdom says that such grade inflation is unavoidable since it is essentially costless to award good grades. In this paper, we point out an effect driving into the opposite direction: Grade inflation is not actually costless, since it has an impact on future cohorts of graduates, or, put differently, by grading honestly, a school can build up reputation. Introducing a concern for reputation into an established signaling model of grading, we show that this mechanism reduces or even avoids grade inflation. --

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Goettingen, Department of Economics in its series Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers with number 143.

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    Date of creation: 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:143

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    Postal: Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen
    Web page: http://www.cege.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/
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    Related research

    Keywords: grading; signaling; reputation; education;

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    1. Sergey V. Popov & Dan Bernhardt, 2013. "University Competition, Grading Standards, And Grade Inflation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(3), pages 1764-1778, 07.
    2. Pedro S. Martins, 2010. "Individual teacher incentives, student achievement and grade inflation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28285, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Bauer, Thomas K. & Grave, Barbara S., 2011. "Performance-related Funding of Universities: Does More Competition Lead to Grade Inflation?," IZA Discussion Papers 6073, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Talia Bar & Vrinda Kadiyali & Asaf Zussman, 2009. "Grade Information and Grade Inflation: The Cornell Experiment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 93-108, Summer.
    5. Talia Bar & Vrinda Kadiyali & Asaf Zussman, 2012. "Putting Grades in Context," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 445 - 478.
    6. Himmler, Oliver & Schwager, Robert, 2007. "Double Standards in Educational Standards: Are Disadvantaged Students Being Graded More Leniently?," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-016, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    7. Robertas Zubrickas, 2010. "Optimal grading," IEW - Working Papers 487, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Manuel Bagues & Mauro Sylos Labini & Natalia Zinovyeva, 2008. "Differential Grading Standards and University Funding: Evidence from Italy," Working Papers 2008-07, FEDEA.
    9. Damiano, Ettore & Li, Hao & Suen, Wing, 2006. "Credible Ratings," Microeconomics.ca working papers damiano-06-01-17-01-56-45, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 17 Jan 2006.
    10. Philip Babcock, 2010. "Real Costs Of Nominal Grade Inflation? New Evidence From Student Course Evaluations," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 983-996, October.
    11. Arthur Caplan & John Gilbert, 2010. "Can fighting grade inflation help the bottom line?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(17), pages 1663-1667.
    12. Lydia Mechtenberg, 2006. "Cheap Talk in the Classroom," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2006-019, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
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