Letter to the Editor

Keith S. Lloyd

Dear Editors of the Kent Stater,

This letter is in response to your recent article, “A good class to B in.”

As a composition professor for 26 years, 12 in the KSU system, I find the recent article, “A good class to B in” offensive. This letter addresses the remarks centering on grades in composition classes not fitting into the “bell curve” — consistent measurements that indicate certain percentages of people in any given situation will be excellent, average, fail, etc.

Using the “bell curve” to interpret grades in this manner makes no sense if we truly believe in human potential. We are not talking about percentages of people who like dogs or who are democrats. We are talking about teaching and whether there are methods to promote student success despite “bell curve” differences. Granted, human capabilities vary, but composition instructors on the whole work very hard to make sure students of all backgrounds and abilities learn. To compare the results of our teaching to a bell curve is insulting.

As a teacher, I cannot walk into a class thinking, “Well, no matter what I do, it’s all going to end in a bell curve.” In fact, bell curves in my courses cause me to rethink my teaching methods. They indicate the need to redesign courses so more students succeed given the same high standards. That is NOT grade inflation, it’s good teaching.

In any other profession, results matter. They matter even more in teaching. We whine constantly in the media about the sad state of teaching in this nation, and this article only adds fuel to that fire. But teaching isn’t about profit margins and bell curves, it’s about helping the greatest number of human beings succeed in life. Composition instructors do their best to help students become better writers. We don’t need articles like this to needlessly discourage us — and, more importantly, demean the positive and significant work we do.


Keith S. Lloyd 

Associate Professor of English, KSU Stark