Friday, September 14, 2012

Obama’s Letter Grades

Way back in 2005 I started pushing the idea here at vX that we ought to grade economic growth on a letter grade scale.

I proposed two scales: an “old school” letter grade based on the normal distribution, and a “new school” letter grade scale based on a contemporary distribution across majors from my school.

Here’s collected in one place, are Obama’s letter grades:

Quarter “Old School” “New School”
2012 II C B
2012 I C B
2011 IV B A
2011 III D C
2011 II C B
2011 I D C
2010 IV C B
2010 III C B
2010 II C B
2010 I C B
2009 IV B A
2009 III D C
2009 II F D
2009 I F F

Of course, some claim “it’s all Bush’s fault”. Fair enough.

The table below shows the GPA for Obama using a cumulative sum. This means that entries at the top of the table include only the most recent quarters, while those towards the bottom include progressively more quarters in Obama’s average:

Quarters Included “Old School” “New School”
2012 II Only 2.0 3.0
2012 I to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2011 IV to 2012 II 2.3 3.3
2011 III to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2011 II to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2011 I to 2012 II 1.8 2.8
2010 IV to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2010 III to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2010 II to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2010 I to 2012 II 1.9 2.6
2009 IV to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2009 III to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2009 II to 2012 II 1.8 2.8
2009 I to 2012 II 1.6 2.6

For the period from 1947-2005, the “old school” GPA for America is 2.5. Obama never reaches that level. Brian Gongol has a graphic showing this.

The “new school” GPA for the same period is 3.25. That matches the average for all matriculated students in all graded classes at my school in 2004-5. In short, it’s what’s normal for today’s student given the grade inflation of the last few decades.

Obama beats that only if your reference set is exceptionally selective, and includes only the last 3 quarters. No more, no less.

I don’t know about hope, but we did get change.

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