Another dot in the blogosphere?

Either or both?

Posted on: September 22, 2020

I have been following the disaster that was the algorithmic grade prediction for the International Baccalaureate in the US and the GCEs in the UK.

Video source

The video above is one of several news reports on the issue. The NYT piece offers an excellent overview and critique.

I offer an oversimplification of the problem. Students could not take their exams due to the coronavirus pandemic. Administrators decided to rely on algorithms to predict their grades after using teacher-graded work and the school’s past performance as indicators.

Unfortunately, some students received lower than expected grades. Worse still, these students were disproportionately from poorer or otherwise disadvantaged schools.

A problem that administrators wanted to avoid was grade inflation, i.e., better than expected results compared to the previous year. This was an underhanded way of suggesting that teachers might grade their students too generously.

Another problem that they and other observers worried about was the impact of remote lessons and exam preparation on students. This was a shady way of saying that learning online was inferior and/or that teachers thrown into the deep end of emergency remote teaching did not do a good enough job.

However, what resulted was grades that were better than expected. They were so good that they might have been algorithmically adjusted downward.

So here is an unoriginal thought: Either the teachers had no integrity (they cheated by being lenient) or that online teaching and learning was better than expected. The en masse fraud among teachers is unthinkable. Some people do not seem to want to give credit to online teaching and learning. So what happened then?

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