To: Dr. B. I. Duce                   From: Professor G. Fawkes              Date: Tomorrow
Subject: Completion Rates

Dear Ben,

As you know, I have enjoyed our conversations about academic affairs in the past. We seemed to share a common viewpoint about the importance of maintaining standards in the face of growing grade inflation in our profession. So I must say I was taken aback by your stern line of questioning about my respectable course completion rates at my post-tenure review “interview.”

You know me well as an innovative, highly-skilled, dedicated professor with a “medium-tough but very fair” reputation with the students. Despite holding the line on appropriate academic standards, my peer and student evaluations are overwhelmingly favorable. Even students with lower grades have praised my teaching effectiveness. Yet, you have asked me for a plan of action to improve my completion rates. Ok, then, please see my three-point plan below.

1. I will run an item analysis on all my exams. Any question that more than 10% of the students answer wrong will be replaced by a Blooms Taxonomy Level 1 True/False question in future renderings of the exam. Even the students who learned nothing should have a 50-50 chance of getting such questions right. Maybe better if they bring their lucky coin.

2. I will refuse to grant late withdrawals in the future. I don’t care if it is an A-student who was in a coma for the last half of the semester. Even if it destroys his GPA, the D he will earn (see #3 below) will still count as successful completion for me. After all, it has been made clear that completion rates are #1, right?

3. I plan to adopt the following grading scale: 
A = 90-100%
B = 80-90%
C = 70-80%
D = 10-70%
F = 0-10%

I believe this plan will increase my completion rates to something approaching 100%. You should see a similar increase in graduation rates too. I have shared this plan with other high-quality educators at the college who are sick of being judged by completion rates instead of their excellent teaching skills. Professors who will be up for tenure, promotion, or post-tenure review in the next few years (which is, essentially, everyone) are all enthusiastic about implementing this plan.  

Oh, and, no worries about the fact that our past graduating classes were highly successful, and subsequent ones will be an embarrassment to our institution. By the time everyone out there realizes we’ve become a diploma mill, you will have moved on to bigger and “better” things at a bigger and “better” institution, and I will be retired.  

Thank you for your leadership and never-ending commitment to academic integrity.

(In)Sincerely Yours,

Guy Fawkes
Professor, Department of Satire and Social Commentary