Today's Grade-Inflated, Lake Wobegon World; Letter Grade of A Now Most Common College Grade
"I would like to state my own alarm and dismay at the degree to which grade compression ... has infected some of our colleges," said Christopher Cramer, chairman of the Faculty Consultative Committee. "I think we are at serious risk, through the abandonment of our own commitment of rigorous academic standards, of having outside standards imposed upon us."
National studies and surveys suggest that college students now get more A's than any other grade even though they spend less time studying. Cramer's solution -- to tack onto every transcript the percentage of students that also got that grade -- has split the faculty and highlighted how tricky it can be to define, much less combat, grade inflation."
MP: As one University of Minnesota undergraduate student explained the rising GPA trend when evaluating a professor known as a rigorous grader, "We live in a grade-inflated world." That University of Minnesota anthropology professor Karen-Sue Taussig suspects that today's "grade-inflated world" can be traced to the growing cost of a college degree, i.e. today's "tuition-inflated world." As Taussig told the Star Tribune, "They're paying for it, and they worked really hard, and they put in time, and therefore they think they should get a good grade."
Last year, Professor Rojstaczer and co-author Christopher Healy published a research article in the Teachers College Record titled "Where A Is Ordinary: The Evolution of American College and University Grading, 1940–2009." The main conclusion of the paper appears below (emphasis added), and is illustrated by the chart below showing the rising share of A letter grades over time at American colleges, from 15% in 1940 to 43% by 2008. Starting in about 1998, the letter grade A became the most common college grade.
MP: The connections among "grade inflation, "tuition inflation," "college textbook inflation," and exponentially rising student loan debt are important. Perhaps students find it easier to accept rising tuition, higher textbook prices (many selling for $200-300 now), and $25,000 in average student loan debt if they at least graduate with mostly As and a GPA above 3.0? Even if they can't find a job, they can take pride in having "earned" an inflated GPA?