I have a couple of problems with how grading is traditionally done in education. One is the whole notion of a grade spread from, say, A to D. Shouldn’t the pass/fail cutoff come higher?
The implication of a wide grade spread is that teachers are teaching unnecessary material. Teaching more than students need to know. After all, if you can get a lot of questions wrong, but still pass, then, by implication, you don’t really need to know the stuff you got wrong.
Yet surely it’s important (depending on the course) for students to get some things right, and not just randomly. To take an extreme example, imagine a surgeon who could identify 5 out of 6 vital organs. Would you want him operating on you? Does he need to know all 6 vital organs? Likewise, there are several core problems that an automechanic needs to know how to diagnose and repair. What if an automechanic knew everything about a car except how to identify or fix faulty brakes?
Shouldn’t exams focus on mastering the essentials? If you can get a number of questions wrong, but still pass, or even get a high score, doesn’t that mean the exam is padded with unnecessary questions? Isn’t it better to keep taking the same test until you master the essentials?
I also have a beef with curve grading. If teachers didn’t grade on a curve, then even though cheaters would still have an unfair advantage, they wouldn’t push the grade down for honest students.
But when teachers grade on a curve, that averages the scores, so the grade distribution penalizes honest students. The grader totals the scores, then divides by the number of students. This means students aren’t graded on their independent performance. Rather, it’s a comparative grade. You’re graded relative to other students.
Every time the same test is given, there’s a different grade distribution. You could get the same questions right or wrong, yet you’d receive a different grade each time you took the same test. Isn’t that arbitrary?
And the cheaters effectively downgrade the honest students, because their scores skew the grade cutoff (from A+ to A to A- to B+ to B to B-, &c.), since curve grading centers on a mean score. The high scorers depress the grade distribution for the lower scorers. When you throw cheaters into the mix, who score high through cheating, they win by making other students lose.