While factors correlated with grade point average may not necessarily predict an individual student's performance, students, parents and educators should be aware of these factors in order to address anything that may reduce student achievement. They should also keep in mind that students' ambition and work ethic will have the greatest impact on their academic performance.
According to a study conducted by the ACT, grade inflation can decrease the reliability of GPA in determining student aptitude and potential. The study notes that high school GPAs rose precipitously between 1991 and 2003, and that the trend toward higher grades does not necessarily lead to an improved performance in other aptitude indicators such as standardized tests. "The New American" also reports that No Child Left Behind has had a profound impact on grade inflation, with some schools banning "D" and "F" grades entirely.
Socioeconomic status continues to be a reliable predictor of student performance. In a study conducted at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Rebecca Zwick and Jennifer Greif Green found that "high school grades and class rank have a larger correlation with family income and education" than they do with standardized test grades. Students from low-income households are also more likely to experience bullying and other problems at school, according to the Deseret News.
Gender can correlate to GPA in a number of ways. Education.com notes that female students perform better as a whole, particularly with regard to literacy. Despite this, there is a notable achievement gap between the genders with regard to math and science, where male students tend to perform better. The U.S. Department of Education notes that although dropout rates have decreased dramatically since the 1960s, male students are more likely to drop out of high school.
The U.S. Department of Education notes that statewide student achievement often results from governmental policies, including funding, curriculum and teacher certification requirements. However, student demographics may also play a role in determining statewide demographics. Factors such as socioeconomic status differ between states. Likewise, the ETS reports that students who do not speak English as their native language may have difficulty in school until they learn the language. As a result, recent immigrants may have lower GPAs unless and until they are fluent in English.
- The New American: Grade Inflation in American Education
- University of California at Santa Barbara: New Perspectives on the Correlation of Scholastic Assessment Test Scores, High School Grades and Socioeconomic Factors
- U.S. Department of Education: Percentage of high school dropouts among persons 16 through 24 years old (status dropout rate), by sex and race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1960 through 2010
- U.S. Department of Education: State of the States in Education
- ETS: A Human Capital Concern: The Literacy Proficiency of U.S. Immigrants
Since 2003, Momi Awana's writing has been featured in "The Hawaii Independent," "Tradewinds" and "Eternal Portraits." She served as a communications specialist at the Hawaii State Legislature and currently teaches writing classes at her library. Awana holds a Master of Arts in English from University of Hawaii, Mānoa.