Good Grieve! America’s Grade Inflation Culture
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The university admissions scandal exposed in March 2019—in which parents paid a college admissions consultant to inflate their child's ACT or SAT scores or to fabricate a stellar athletic record—necessitates taking a fresh look at grade inflation. The reason is that those who paid to have their children gain admission to elite universities would not have done so if it was likely that their children would perform poorly in those institutions or even fail to graduate. The American culture of grade inflation has made those outcomes unlikely.
The most common American university grading system is A or 4.0, B or 3.0, C or 2.0, D or 1.0, and F or 0.0. Nearly all universities and colleges still define these grades as Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Fail or Deficient. However, most university and college grading is in the range of A and B. Between 1940 and 2008, the percentage of “A” grades awarded increased by 28 percent and the percentage of “C” and “D” grades declined by 21...