Western Governors University hires specialist grading staff

In an attempt to reduce cases of faculty inflating student grades, officials at Western Governors University (WGU) have hired 300 adjunct professors whose sole job will be to grade students' work, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The hiring of outside staff could reduce factors that influence the grades professors award to student papers, officials at the college said.

"They think like assessors, not professors," Diane Johnson, head of the new hires at WGU, told the news source. "The evaluators have no contact with the students at all. They don't know them. They don't know what color they are, what they look like, or where they live. Because of that, there is no temptation to skew results in any way other than to judge the students' work."

The inflation of student achievement in some colleges has been subject of major debate recently. According to The New York Times, the number of A grades awarded to students in higher education has risen steadily since the early 1980s, with little evidence that student aptitudes and academic success have been a contributing factor. Approximately 43 percent of all letter grades awarded in 2008 were A's, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960.

Some experts have speculated that practices of grade inflation have been used by some schools to improve how they look in college rankings.  

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