Grade inflation skyrockets: C is no longer average
October 18, 2016
Filed under Opinion
There is a common maxim heard by discouraged students when they receive a bad grade that, “a C is average.” However, the validity of that statement is questionable when considering the average profile of an East Grand Rapids student.
In the past five years alone the grade letter average hasn’t dipped below a B+ according to the latest East Grand Rapids High School profile published on the district website. A few years ago the class of 2013 posted an even higher GPA average of 3.51 equating to an A- grade letter average.
These numbers can easily be perceived as evidence for the dedication exhibited by the student body and faculty that have earned the school a string of awards and recognitions. Yet, this influx in students earning within the top bracket of the grading scale is not a local anomaly. Public high schools across the nation have seen average GPA’s increase since 1990 with the last survey in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Education reporting a nationwide average GPA of 3.0 or a B average.
While the numbers support the claim that grade inflation exists, there is still heated contention over the true implications of grade inflation. It is easy to discount grade inflation or view it as a good thing as it suggests receiving an “A” is not a rarity. Nevertheless, if the majority of students are receiving grades in the upper half of grading scales, then do inflated grades really denote a strong comparison standard for achievement?
An assortment of factors ranging from the teacher, to the subject, to the student coalesce into a inflated grading trend where not all A’s are created equal. In some classes getting a B or even a C is equivalent to the amount of work required for an A in another class.
The solutions are not clear of how to distinguish the meaning behind the “A” and in larger context the abilities of a student. The Weekly Standard reported Harvard professor Harvey C. Mansfield’s unique solution. Mansfield assigned two grades to every student. The first grade was an uninflated reflection of the successes in the class, and the other reflected the inflated grading system. However only the inflated grade was published.
In the today’s grade obsessed academic culture even a Harvard professor is swayed from printing the grades he thought his students rightfully deserved. It is clear a C is no longer satisfactory and quite frankly no longer average either.