Grade Inflation as a Threat to Students and Universities?
Evaluating students through grades has long been a universally accepted role of teachers and professors. In this respect grades are commonly seen as an “objective – though not perfect – index of the degree of academic mastery of a subject”. At the same time, grading along with universities in general have undergone great changes since World War II due to an increase of students, economic pressure and competition between institutions of higher education. As a result of these changes, the notion of grade inflation emerged. Grade inflation represents a rise in the grade point average (GPA) of students during a period of time “without a corresponding increase in student achievement”.
The article “Evaluation and the Academy: Are We Doing the Right Thing?” by Henry Rosovsky, a former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and Matthew Hartley, an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania, referred to such a severe rise in students’ GPAs during a period of thirty years. Accordingly, the GPA at any kind of institution of higher education in the USA has shown a nearly 15-20 percent rise from the mid-1960s through the mid-1990s due to the notion of grade inflation. For this reason, a critical debate about the drawbacks of grade inflation, a system which fears objectivity (I know we have all learned that “objectivity” does not as such exist, but let’s give it a try), at US colleges and universities should be essential for any society. Especially Since grade inflation embodies a threat for students, their ambitions regarding learning, and for the reputation of universities because it creates an illusion concerning any educational standards.
I mean, does grade inflation not lead to an unjust grading of personal achievement as well as to endangering the original spirit of “education, truth and virtue” of universities, leaving the impression that universities and students would be unambiguously better off with an honest and open grading policy?