High GPAs Have Little Use As Student Motivator or Evaluation Tool for Grad Schools and Employers
Stuart Rojstaczer is a retired Duke University professor who has tirelessly crusaded for several decades against "grade inflation" at U.S. universities and maintains a website with lots of historical GPA data and charts (GradeInflation.com). The chart above illustrates grade inflation at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor over roughly the last half century (data here), with the average GPA rising from 2.57 in 1951 (C+/B-) to 3.27 by 2008 (B+). The grade inflation at Michigan is similar to the national trend at most American universities over time.
Catherine Rampell at the NY Times Economix Blog writes about a new paper by Professor Rojstaczer and co-author Christopher Healy titled "Where A Is Ordinary: The Evolution of American College and University Grading, 1940–2009," published in the Teachers College Record. The main findings of the paper appear below, illustrated by this chart:
MP: It's the college version of the "Lake Wobegon effect" and "illusory superiority."