, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 423-429

Does grade inflation affect the reliability of grades?

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Abstract

Two studies were conducted to examine the effect of grade inflation on the piling up of grades in fewer grade categories and on the reliability of grade point averages (GPAs). In all comparisons, grades were more bunched after grade inflation, which in turn, was associated with only slight, nonsignificant decreases in GPA reliability. As expected, grades were more bunched when the traditional 5-point letter scale was used than when plus and minus grades were also allowed. In the latter case as well, grade inflation seemed to have had very little effect on the reliability of GPAs. GPA reliability began to suffer, however, for graduate programs in which almost all grades were placed into just two categories, A and B.