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ERIC Number: ED519547
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan-15
Pages: 32
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
Does Competition among Schools Encourage Grade Inflation?
Walsh, Patrick
Education Working Paper Archive
This paper considers whether high schools in competitive environments use grade inflation to attract and retain families, perhaps in addition to more constructive responses. Two measures of grade inflation are used: the cutoffs used by each school to assign a letter grade to a percent score; and high school GPA after controlling for test scores, a rich set of student and school characteristics, and (for a subset) college GPA. Two measures of competition are used: the enrollment-based concentration of school districts in metropolitan areas, and an instrument for this concentration. In both OLS and IV, increased competition significantly affects grade cutoffs: a one standard deviation increase in competition results in about a 0.12 to 0.18 standard deviation fall in the grade cutoffs (ceteris paribus, lower cutoffs yield higher grades). However, in both OLS and IV, competition does not significantly affect the actual assigned grades as measured by GPA. This pattern of results suggests that school administrators under competitive pressure may ease grade standards, but that teachers may re-adjust their scoring to leave actual grades relatively unchanged. (Contains 7 tables, 1 figure and 4 footnotes.)
Education Working Paper Archive. Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, 201 Graduate Education Building, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Tel: 479-575-3172; Fax: 479-575-3196; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of Arkansas, Education Working Paper Archive