Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Philip H. Brown

Second Advisor

Michael Donihue


Consistent with trends at American colleges and universities nationwide, grades have been monotonically increasing at Colby College over the past decade while controlling for student aptitude. A rich data set that describes every Colby student over three cohorts is used to predict student performance. By comparing the mean predicted grade to the mean actual grade in a department, it is seen that some departments award mean grades that are significantly higher than predicted grades warranted by explainable factors. With some departments giving significantly higher grades than other departments, the current grading system is susceptible to awarding unwarranted higher grades to students who major in those departments. Therefore, a normalized system of class rank is proposed in which performance is standardized against the mean grade at that particular class level in the respective department. The alternative system of class rank appears to mitigate the detrimental effects that large discrepancies in mean grades between departments engender.


grade, colby college, class rank, alternative grading measures

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