Having last sat for an exam in school in the 1980s, I’ve long wondered about 4.3 GPAs, off-the-chart SAT scores (that made my once impressive math score seem pedestrian), and a host of other grade inflation issues. Apparently others have as well, notably former Duke University professor Stuart Rojstaczer and Furman University professor Chris Healy who collected and analyzed some data as recounted in this story at the Washington Post.
Here’s the really unsettling part:
The authors attribute today’s inflation to the consumerization of higher education. That is, students pay more in tuition, and expect more in return — better service, better facilities and better grades. Or at least a leg up in employment and graduate school admissions through stronger transcripts.
But rising tuition may not be the sole driver of students’ expectations for better grades, given that high school grades have also risen in recent decades. And rather than some top-down directive from administrators, grade inflation also seems related to a steady creep of pressure on professors to give higher grades in exchange for better teaching evaluations.