Grade inflation at the college level is real, it’s undeniable –it should be quite dismaying for the truly superior segment of college students who are getting “all As” along with so many of their less capable fellow students.
If almost everybody is getting top grades, what exactly do top grades mean?
At my alma mater, 50 years ago, a handful of graduates walked across the commencement stage "with honors." Now, about 40% of the graduating class earns a degree cum laude or better.
A recent piece on WashingtonPost.com tells the familiar story:
Grade inflation continues across the nation. More than 40% of all undergraduate across the country are “A” or “A-minus.” Grade inflation is the norm at top ranked schools: at Yale, 62% of undergraduate grades are “A” or “A-minus.” In 1963 only 10% of the grades posted for Yale undergrads were in that once-exclusive category.
Princeton experimented for 10 years with high profile, voluntary guidelines to limit the pervasiveness of such high grades, but Princeton is abandoning this effort—faculty didn’t like it, students didn’t like and Princeton officials believe that other Ivy schools were taking competitive advantage of Princeton’s nominal stingy grade policies.
There is some thought that today’s students (and their parents) think that the absurdly inflated COST of going to college entitles them to high grades. Wow.
And here’s another point: some defenders of grade inflation argue that today’s college students are “smarter” than students were in the old days. That’s baloney, too.
Consider: 50 years ago only 45% of high school graduates went to college (2-year or 4-year), and now it’s much higher, about 65%. De facto, with such a large majority of high school grads heading to college, it’s really not mathematically possible that the additional 20% who are heading to college are much, much smarter than the average college-bound kid was many years ago.
The expanded crop of college freshmen each year, mathematically, must have a lower average capability to do college work than the relatively smaller, more select 1960s crowd took to their college campuses.