By: Bill Bosher
Grade inflation in higher education is getting much attention. A US Today article noted that the GPA in colleges and universities in the 50's was 2.52. In 2006, the average GPA was 3.11.
In some prestigious institutions, more that 50% of the undergraduates receive "A's". Princeton and Yale have asked professors to cap the "A'" at 35%.
Perhaps there are some lessons around this issue, even if the expectations seem less demanding.
First, all "A's" in a class may not be negative if every student has attained the skills and knowledge that are required.
Secondly, worse than all "A's" is the notion that a teacher must prove to a talented group of students that some of them are eagles only when compared with blue birds. Against other eagles, they may be buzzards.
This may be helpful only if we are compelled to determine an ordinal ranking in every class…first, second, third, fourth. Conversely, the 80's seem to have brought a consumer notion to the classroom that students had paid their money and expected their grades.
A student once called me after receiving a failing grade and asked if I knew that she was taking it for credit. I responded, "the real issue is did YOU know that you were taking it for credit." She had not passed a single assignment.
More than grades, the issue is whether or not college is becoming less demanding. If true, students will not suffer…it will be the workplace.