It’s raining As in America’s higher education system, and not necessarily because students are particularly smart. In fact, many of them probably don’t deserve the high marks they’re getting. They have grade inflation to thank.
That inflation is rapidly spreading to higher education institutions across the country. Despite stagnant academic performance, more students than ever before receive higher grades than they should. The trend is raising ethical questions and marks a 180-flip from a few decades ago, when the opposite problem—grade deflation—plagued many colleges.
“Students aren’t getting smarter," said Stuart Rojstaczer, a writer and former science professor who calls himself the country’s “grade inflation czar.” “They aren’t studying more. When they graduate they are less literate. There’s no indication that the increase of grades nationwide is related to any increase in performance or achievement.”
Rojstaczer’s website, GradeInflation.com, compiled GPA data from more than 230 American universities. These studies corroborate the inflation, showing that the growth rate started to escalate following the Vietnam War.
Average college GPAs in 2006 were much higher in they were in 1930, according to a study of more than 160 colleges and universities that was published in the Columbia University-based publication Teachers College Record. Rojstaczer co-authored the study with Christopher Healy, who teaches computer science at Furman University and said such inflation can ultimately undermine students’ achievement.