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Honest grading, grade inflation and reputation

  • Ehlers, Tim
  • Schwager, Robert
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    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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    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
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen
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    1. 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.
    2. Pedro S. Martins, 2009. "Individual Teacher Incentives, Student Achievement and Grade Inflation," Working Papers 29, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Robertas Zubrickas, 2008. "Optimal Grading," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0027, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
    6. Lydia Mechtenberg, 2006. "Cheap Talk in the Classroom," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2006-019, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:rwi:repape:0288 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Damiano, Ettore & Li, Hao & Suen, Wing, 2008. "Credible ratings," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), September.
    12. Manuel Bagues & Mauro Sylos Labini & Natalia Zinovyeva, 2008. "Differential Grading Standards and University Funding: Evidence from Italy," Working Papers 2008-07, FEDEA.
    13. Wayne A. Grove & Tim Wasserman, 2004. "The Life-Cycle Pattern of Collegiate GPA: Longitudinal Cohort Analysis and Grade Inflation," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 162-174, April.
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