Harvard Is Completely Ordinary When It Comes to Grade Inflation

Join the club. “A” is the most common grade across the country.

National Journal
Dec. 4, 2013, 9:35 a.m.

Sorry, Har­vard, the news you dumped today isn’t all that spe­cial. The most com­mon grade awar­ded at your school is “A”. So what? Wel­come to the club of Amer­ic­an aca­demia. Grades have been on the rise na­tion­ally for dec­ades. And “A” is the most com­mon grade across the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to the work of Stu­art Rojstaczer, a former Duke Geo­phys­ics pro­fess­or who is prob­ably the most quoted source on this is­sue, the av­er­age GPA in Amer­ic­an col­leges rose from 2.52 in 1960 to 3.11 in 2006. That’s nearly a whole let­ter grade high­er.

The Uni­versity of Delaware, which I at­ten­ded, gave out a grade of A or A- 40 per­cent of the time in 2009. And that was just the av­er­age across all the col­leges and de­part­ments. Sev­enty per­cent of those tak­ing classes in the Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion re­ceived A’s.

Brown Uni­versity made sim­il­ar news in 2008 when it was re­vealed that more than 50 per­cent of all grades dis­trib­uted were A’s. Yale gives out A’s 62 per­cent of the time. It would be much weirder if Har­vard trended in the oth­er dir­ec­tion.

Keep in mind there’s a huge gulf in the grades of quant­it­at­ive sub­jects like sci­ence and math and more qual­it­at­ive sub­jects like Eng­lish and his­tory. At Delaware, for in­stance, the bio­logy de­part­ment only awar­ded A’s 20 per­cent of the time.

Grade in­fla­tion is only a prob­lem if you think GPAs are im­port­ant. The more you com­pact all grades in­to the high 3.5-4.0 range, the less abil­ity they have to il­lus­trate mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ences between stu­dents.

That’s a good thing for Har­vard stu­dents, as grade in­fla­tion works in their fa­vor, and it’s bad news for every­one else. A study pub­lished in Ju­ly found that, in an ex­per­i­ment, hy­po­thet­ic­al stu­dents from a strict-grad­ing school were ad­mit­ted to MBA pro­grams just 11 per­cent of the time while those from a grade-in­flated school were ad­mit­ted 72 per­cent of the time. That was true even though ad­mis­sions of­ficers were giv­en the in­di­vidu­al grades with the ad­ded con­text of how oth­er stu­dents at that school per­formed.

“People rely heav­ily on nom­in­al per­form­ance (such as GPA) as an in­dic­at­or of suc­cess while fail­ing to suf­fi­ciently take in­to ac­count in­form­a­tion about the dis­tri­bu­tions of per­form­ances from which it came,” the au­thors con­cluded.

So good work, Har­vard! Fi­nally, your stu­dents will be no­ticed.

What We're Following See More »
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE BEING NOTIFIED
Mueller Reportedly Reports
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
HE "LIKES CHAIRMAN KIM"
Trump Cancels North Korea Sanctions Just After They're Announced
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
BUT TRUMP NOT READY TO NOMINATE HIM
Shanahan Says Caliphate Has Been Eliminated
5 hours ago
THE LATEST
ISSUE LED TO INVESTIGATION OF ZINKE
Interior Reverses Stand on Connecticut Casinos
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Interior Department is reversing course on an initial decision to ban two Native American tribes from building a casino, an issue at the core of an ethics investigation into former Secretary Ryan Zinke. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is now granting the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes the right to build an off-reservation casino in Connecticut, a complete flip from a previous decision by Zinke in September 2017 to deny the permits."

Source:
LONGTIME SUPPLY SIDER IS A TRUMP LOYALIST
Trump Considering Stephen Moore for Fed
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login