UP urged to probe grade ‘hyperinflation' amid record number of Latin honors

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2022 04:28 PM

MANILA — Philippine colleges and universities should revisit their grading schemes as a way to look into grade “hyperinflation,” a professor from the country’s premier state university said.

“As much as possible, without compromising institutional autonomy, there should be a discussion across-the-board on grading systems, particularly [on] the phenomenon of grade hyperinflation,” Danilo Arao, who teaches journalism at the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP Diliman), said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Grade hyperinflation refers to an “A level” increase in students’ scores that do not match the quality of their academic outputs, said Arao.

“[Grade hyperinflation] is much higher than just simply grade inflation,” he said. The latter is defined in a Stanford Review article as a phenomenon “in which schoolwork today receives a higher grade than it would have years ago.”

Arao first raised the issue on grade hyperinflation last Wednesday after baring in a Twitter post that UP Diliman is set to award Latin honors to 1,433 graduates this year, of which 147 are poised to receive the highest distinction of “summa cum laude.”

In UP Diliman, a graduating student must have a weighted average grade of 1.20 or above to be awarded summa cum laude.

UP urged to probe grade ‘hyperinflation' amid record number of Latin honors

The journalism educator explained he knew of the number of Latin honor recipients because he is a part of the University Council, which approves the list of graduating students. He said that the figures posted on Twitter were not yet final, adding that “the number may still increase.”

“That’s not to say that they’re not deserving [of Latin honors]. I’m inclined to think that they are. It’s just that there’s a need to review the old system of grading, given that there are now new forms of learning,” Arao said, explaining his push for UP and other universities to discuss grade hyperinflation.

“In the context of the [COVID-19] pandemic, it becomes even more necessary to review the grades given the context of academic ease,” he added.

Many Philippine colleges and universities implemented an “academic ease” policy during the pandemic, wherein educators were asked to be more considerate towards students by reducing their schoolwork, due to the ongoing health crisis that forced them to shift to a tough remote learning setup.

Other factors that should be looked into regarding grade hyperinflation are grade “negotiations” or “solicitations,” Arao said.

Arao said grade hyperinflation creates “unnecessary expectations coming from future employers, admission committees of graduate schools, and other people and groups that would want to check the transcript of records of the students.”

“We want to have something that's fairer,” he said, adding that the grading and Latin honor system ought to be “more reflective of the kind of learning environment that we have right now.”

Arao said he proposed for a discussion on grade hyperinflation with UP Diliman’s University Council, whose members “responded quite positively.”

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