Several studies have been completed that looked at teacher education and teacher standards (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1991; Goodlad, Soder, & Sirotnik, 1990; Grossman, 1990; Harthern & Rolle, 1991; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1991). There is discontent on the part of much of the public with teachers (Reinhartz, 1988). Many believe that the profession attracts a person with lesser ability as compared to other professions.
If we go by achievement test scores by education majors, there is some truth to the criticism about ability. The authors recall examining the norms from the Educational Testing Service About the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (Educational Testing Service, 1992). A score that would be in the 40th percentile for a psychology major would be in the 60th percentile for an education major. This indicates that compared to psychology majors, education majors displayed a lower level of ability as measured by the GRE. One's basic ability seems to have a lot to do with how successful one can be in demonstrating that one has learned material (Eisenman, 1992; Eisenman, Melville, & St. Andrie, 1992).
How Do Education Professors Grade Students?
Given the above scenario, the question arises, how do education professors grade their students? Are they unusually tough, to make up for the seemingly apparent lower ability of many of its majors. Do education professors adjust their grading to take into account their students' levels, thus becoming easy graders? Are grades in education courses no different from grades given in other courses, not being harder or easier?
Purpose of the Study
This study compares grades at a state university in four education subfields: curriculum and instruction, health and physical education, administration and supervision, and special education. These subfields are contrasted with TABULAR DATA OMITTED grades given in psychology, nursing, and office systems and business communication classes.
The analysis consisted of all students at a state university registered for both lower and upper division undergraduate courses and for graduate courses in the education courses of: curriculum and instruction, health and physical education, administration and supervision, and special education, and in the noneducation courses of psychology, nursing, and office systems and business communication. The total number of students registered for these courses was 8119. This number is greater than the actual number of students involved, since it counts each time a student takes a class. Thus, a student who took two of the classes in this analysis would be counted twice.
Grades were obtained for all students who received grades in these courses, including I (incomplete), W (withdrew) and WF (withdrew failing), as well as the usual grades of A, B, C, D, and F. The grades were listed in three categories: lower division undergraduate courses, upper division undergraduate courses, and graduate courses.
The results are shown in Table 1. While me might expect most graduate students to get good grades, more than half the students in the lower division education classes received A's, with the exception of special education, ranging from 63.8% of the lower division students in curriculum and instruction receiving A's to 73.7% of the students in administration and supervision getting A's. In contrast, only 23.8% of lower division students in office systems and business communication received A's, 22.8% in psychology, and 8.3% in nursing. Special education gave only 39.8% A's, which is low for education classes in this sample, but still higher than any of the noneducation classes studied.
If we examine the F grade, we see that students in education classes are unlikely to receive a failing grade, while students in the noneducation classes are more likely to receive an F. …