Grade Inflation in Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Unexpected Effect or Anti-Crisis Strategy?

Keywords: analytics in education, educational process, educational environment, evidence-based pedagogy, student performance, school closings, COVID-19


The closure of educational institutions and the transfer of the learning process to a distance format during the COVID-19 pandemic came as a shock to everyone involved in the educational process. There was, in fact, a rupture of the educational everyday — the normal and unproblematic order of things. A “new normal”, as it came to be called, could not emerge immediately — it had to be reconstructed within the unaccustomed contexts of distance interaction for many. Collective practices of this construction were and are captured today in the narratives of their participants — teachers, students and sometimes their parents. This study attempts, through quantitative analysis, to describe the transformation of assessment in schools during the pandemic and to formulate a hypothesis as to the possible reason for the change in marking practices as one of the most significant ways of managing the learning process as well as the social and psychological context of its implementation.

The data source used was a database of students’ grades from schools in one of the regions of the Russian Federation, accumulated from 2015 to 2021. Using big data methods and the Cohen effect coefficient, the main changes in assessment are described. Particular attention is paid to the few months of 2020, when all schools in the region were closed to face-to-face attendance. It is during this period that a significant inflationary spike in marking is recorded.

It is suggested that teachers deliberately use the strategy of inflating marks in order to maintain a favorable social and psychological climate in school classes and to reduce the general tension in connection with the transition to the distance learning format. An attempt has been made to theorize a strategy for the grade inflation behavior during a period of cataclysm.


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How to Cite
Alishev, Timirkhan, Fail Gafarov, Pavel Ustin, and Alisa Khalfieva. 2022. “Grade Inflation in Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Unexpected Effect or Anti-Crisis Strategy?”. Voprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no. 4 (December), 33-57.
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