Grade inflation has been an issue in academics for decades. The term refers to professors and teachers bumping student’s grades up artificially.
According to an article published in “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” grades have become so inflated that they do not matter much to employers. The study also acknowledges that the standard GPA grading system relies upon a normal distribution.
Professor of Psychology Dr. Patrick Smith details his opinion of the subject.
“People’s expectations of grades are skewed toward the higher end,” Smith said. “There are pressures for students to do well, whether that be for getting into graduate school or for student- teacher evaluations.”
Another article published in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” is critical of the GPA system used in most colleges and universities in the U.S., saying that the inflation is due mostly to pressures from students.
Professor of Business Administration Dr. Larry Ross explains how evaluations affect professors at the college level.
“They [student-teacher evaluations] have way more weight than students realize,” Ross said. “Gen. Ed. classes tend to have more inflation because the students don’t necessarily want to be there.”
The same study says that the time-based credit system only increases bias among professors because it encourages professors to abide by their students in order to ensure tenure.
At the university level, professors are in- dependent agents who are allowed to govern their classes as they see fit.
“I have academic freedom. I’m on my own when it comes to how I run my classes,” Ross said.
More students are getting grades in the top percentile than ever before. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Because of this freedom, there are few other ways to evaluate professor effectiveness other than through student reflection. Since their future lies in the hands of student evaluation, professors are more likely to make a student happy with a higher grade than to grade fairly.
An article published in “The Chronicle” addresses that at most universities and colleges students are able to omit grades from classes that do not help them in the long run. This level of manipulation of grades does not help students, but enables poor study habits and the “mulligan” attitude.
In other countries, like Great Britain, the same skewed grading system exists. In an- other article published in “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” Lucy Hodges ex- plains how the system works.
“…British universities award degrees divided into five distinctions: first-class honors; second class, upper level (referred to as a 2.1); second class, lower (a 2.2); third class; pass without honors; and fail,” Hodges said.
Hodges went on to say that most universities award degrees in the second class and 2.1 class. This is similar to the C and B of the American GPA grad- ing system.
An anonymous student said that he would use the student-professor evaluation as a form of punishment for professors.
“If I felt that a professor was out to get me, then I would mark him down on the evaluation,” he said. “But also, if he was particularly awful, I would mark him down, too.”
So what is a solution to this grade inflation problem?
Some experts suggest including a percentile range on transcripts. For example, if one student out of 20 receives a B in a class and that is the highest grade, then the transcript would read “B, 95–100.”
This would allow employers to see how well students perform in relation to others. However, as long as grades are scaled, most experts and professors alike think it will remain a problem.
“Since there have been grades, there has been grade inflation,” Ross said.