Grade inflation debases standards and undermines the morale of learning institutions.
AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s director of the Center for Higher Education, Dr. Thomas Lindsay, today released the report Combating the “Other” Inflation: Arresting the Cancer of College Grade Inflation. The report discusses how grade inflation has debased academic standards and explains the need for transcript transparency to restore sound grading standards to Texas public higher education.
“As monetary inflation devalues the dollar, grade inflation debases the currency of education: student transcripts. No surprise, grade inflation makes it increasingly difficult for would-be employers to distinguish truly excellent students from those who have taken courses and majors with lax standards,” said Dr. Lindsay. “Grade inflation is most virulent in the humanities, whereas the natural sciences and mathematics have better maintained standards. As a result, and as studies show, grade inflation disincentivizes students from majoring in the sciences and mathematics—at the same time that the country cries out for more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates.
“The facts indicate the severity of the problem. In the early 1960s, 15 percent of all college grades nationwide were A’s. Today, that number has nearly tripled—43 percent of all grades are A’s. In fact, an A is now the most common grade given in college nationwide. Seventy-three percent of all college grades nationwide today are either A’s or B’s. Studies show that students reward easier-grading professors with better teacher evaluations, which are crucial in deciding faculty tenure, promotion, and salary.
“Legislation requiring transparency in student transcripts, such as Texas’ ‘Honest Transcript Bill,’ is required to alert students, their parents, taxpayers, and legislators to those schools and majors that have maintained standards and those that haven’t.”
Thomas K. Lindsay, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He is a former deputy chairman and chief operating officer of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has more than two decades of experience in higher education management and instruction.