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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Grade Inflation and Teens

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Grades seem out of control but what is worse (from a teacher's perspective) is the entitled expectation students seem to have - that if they put in hard work, the result should equal an "A." More and more teachers are finding themselves faced with angry students complaining that they deserve a higher grade or asserting that they have never received such a poor score from other teachers.

The fact of the matter is that if a student completes the assignment, as specified, the grade is a "C" and only extra effort, stellar performance and profound enlightenment will bring an "A." Just coming to class, completing all assignments and doing the reading is average, and therefore a "C," which seems to be news to the youth of America.

A study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2008) by Dr. Greenberger (et al) at the University of California, Irvine found that students expect at least a "B" for showing up. The authors also noted that this sense of entitlement may be related to increased parental pressure, competition among students, and heightened anxiety about achievement. Those youth with the highest entitlement scores were also more likely to be extrinsically motivated and to cheat - go figure.

I think those students who are truly engaged with material and have an internalized love for knowledge and learning are the ones most likely to care the least about the grades, which is a breath of fresh air for an educator. Now, if we can help universities understand that!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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