Bell curves set students up for failure

When most students think of the word “curve” in regards to a test, they often think of the fudging of the number of questions in their benefit.

However, if we look at what a curve truly is, it is a grade distribution based on a bell curve where some people must receive A’s and others must receive F’s. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

While most students may point out there is always going to be someone who will not do the work and will not pass the class anyway, this is an absolutely harmful grading system that promotes a very negative mindset for students.

If you put together a class full of geniuses, let’s say the Einstein’s of the world, some of these bright individuals would be forced to fail just based on how the curve functions. And if your section happens to be the smarter section, well then, just your luck.

This system promotes a competitive nature in an environment where students should collaborate and do their best work rather than worrying about their classmates. The students who receive A’s are the “smartest” in their class, but they may not be as smart as the person who received a C in another section where general scores were lower.

In the real world, people are truly judgmental almost every moment of the day. The second you lay eyes on someone, a thought comes to your head. And don’t even mention the job market where candidates are always chosen over others as their credibilities, skills and background are put head to head.

A university is supposed to be a learning environment, not a battle of natural selection. If we want to reward students who are intelligent, hard working and passionate, the curve is simply a curve in the wrong direction.

Alyssa Jacobson is a sophomore majoring in advertising and political science. 

April 25, 2013


Alyssa Jacobson

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Bell curves set students up for failure”

  1. Jay says:

    You have totally confused the mean and standard deviation of a distribution. There is no inherent requirement for a bell curve to give some students an F, and a professor can chose parameters where F’s are impossible or common but that is the professors distribution and not an attribute of normalizing the distribution of grades.

    Statistics are important for political science and marketing Alyssa, you should probably take a few more classes in it before you publish anything else embarrassing.

  2. Alexia says:

    The curve is set so that the average of the class has to be a B average. Thats not stated that some people must receive an F. Its not required to be a bell curve distribution. You can have a classroom where no student scores lower than a C and the average can still be a B.

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