A little grade inflation, please

Tough standards can have a downside.

Many parents in Simsbury, Conn., will tell you that they moved there because of schools that have a record of high achievement. But now some are wondering if those same good schools may actually derail their kids' efforts to get into a top college.

The culprit, they charge, is tough grading that's out of step with a country in love with high marks. Hundreds of parents have headed to school board meetings with a solution: Join the crowd.

Parents' research indicates that in 1999 Simsbury High School students were first among those in 27 comparable towns on state tests, and fourth in SAT scores. But they stood 26th among those who could boast an A average at the time they took the SATs.

At the same time, the number of students accepted to top colleges fell noticeably in 1997, and hasn't bounced back up.

Not all students are rushing to join the crusade. For one, they say, it's a very competitive time in admissions - and colleges want a wide variety of students. Some students have even said they're fairly graded.

The school has responded with more Advanced Placement courses, which top colleges like. Simsbury is also trying to market itself as a tough grader, so admissions officers will better understand school transcripts. It's also studying grading policies.

But for now, the school is not budging further. With all the pressure on schools to make students look good to colleges, Simsbury stands out for standing its ground - refining the process, perhaps, but not giving up the standard.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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