Faculty assigned grades are the oldest and most familiar ways to judge student achievement in college. And, as David Eubanks points out, they have several advantages as assessment approaches. To begin with, students care about grades and are motivated to do their best—a condition not generally true for externally administered assessments like standardized tests. In addition, if they are used in the aggregate in the form of an overall grade-point-average (GPA), they are based on at least 40 independent faculty judgments taken throughout a given student’s course of enrollment, not just at the end. Finally, for those interested in examining institutional effectiveness, they are already in place; using them does not involve incurring the additional costs associated with establishing a parallel verification system as is true with formal assessment. These are not properties that can be lightly dismissed.

On the other hand, there are good reasons why grades were declared...

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