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Nurse Educ Pract. 2014 Aug;14(4):374-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2014.01.011. Epub 2014 Feb 11.

Measuring grade inflation: a clinical grade discrepancy score.

Author information

1
William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chesnut Hill, MA, USA; Pioneer Valley Family Medicine, Baystate Health, USA. Electronic address: paskausa@bc.edu.
2
William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chesnut Hill, MA, USA. Electronic address: colleen.simonelli@bc.edu.

Abstract

Grade inflation presents pedagogical and safety concerns for nursing educators and is defined as a "greater percentage of excellent scores than student performances warrant" (Speer et al., 2000, p. 112). This descriptive correlational study evaluated the relationship of licensure exam-style final written exams and faculty assigned clinical grades from undergraduate students (N = 281) for evidence of grade inflation at a private undergraduate nursing program in the Northeast of the United States and developed a new measurement of grade inflation, the clinical grade discrepancy score. This measurement can be used in programs where clinical competency is graded on a numeric scale. Evidence suggested grade inflation was present and the clinical grade discrepancy score was an indicator of the severity of grade inflation. The correlation between licensure-style final written exams and faculty assigned clinical grades was moderate to low at 0.357. The clinical grade discrepancy scores were 98% positive indicating likely grade inflation. Some 70% of clinical grade discrepancy scores indicated a difference of student licensure-style final written exams and faculty assigned clinical grades of at least one full letter grade (10 points out of 100). Use of this new measure as a tool in exploring the prevalence of grade inflation and implications for patient safety are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Clinical competence; Grade inflation; Grading; Nursing education

PMID:
24602828
DOI:
10.1016/j.nepr.2014.01.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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