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Grade Inflation: C Is the New a

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Grade Inflation: C is the new A
Sabas Orona Jr.
Del Mar College
Psychology
2301
Regina Weir
March 23, 2015

Grade Inflation: C is the new A
Have you ever wondered why your grade has been different from a friend or classmates’ when you both have studied the same material in the same class? Could it be that one of you is a better student or that your instructor is participating in grade inflation? Hopefully by the end of this paper you will have a better understanding of this growing phenomenon.
Merriam-Websters dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 2015) defines grade inflation as a rise in the assignment of a grade that previously would have received a lower one. There have been some studies in the past few years regarding grade inflation in American universities and colleges and the affects it might be having on a student’s grade point average (GPA) and on the institutions grading system itself (Abbott, 2008) (Jewell & McPherson, 2012) (Miller, 2014).
Some studies have shown that the trend of grade inflation started in the 1960’s (Jewell & McPherson, 2012). A popular theory is that the Vietnam War, which was highly unpopular at the time, played a major role in grade inflation (Miller, 2014). It is believed that sympathetic college professors gave their students higher grades to keep them from being drafted into the military. By having the students keep a higher GPA the students were then able to keep their draft deferments, thus allowing them to avoid the draft and prevent them from being deployed to Vietnam (Miller, 2014). After the Vietnam War the average GPA seemed to stabilize itself for a few years.
However the trend of rising GPA’s started to climb again in the 1980’s and the trend has not gone down since then. The average GPA has risen steadily every decade an average of 0.15% (Jewell & McPherson, 2012) since the 60’s. Other studies have also shown that a student’s GPA in the 1950’s was on average a 2.52 (Miller, 2014) compared to students after the 2006-2007 school year were a student’s average GPA was a 3.11 (Miller, 2014). The theory of rising GPA’s due to grade inflation seems to grab some traction when compared to the trend of the average GPA rising every decade since the 1960’s.
The trend of a higher GPA average also seem to be greater at private universities than it is at public universities and colleges. A theory for this is that private universities are more likely to give their students a higher GPA in the assumption that more successful firms and companies will recruit their students for jobs and position that tend to pay higher for corporate positions within a company (Jewell & McPherson, 2012). Thus making the private university more appealing to future students wishing to attend their campus.
Another trend that seems to be contributing to the rise in grade inflation is the practice of student evaluations of teaching (SET’s) were it is used for the purpose of promotion, tenure, and merit evaluations (Jewell & McPherson, 2012). It is believed that non-tenured professors and instructors are more likely to give a better grade than what the student deserves for fear of retaliation (Jewell & McPherson, 2012). They assume that if a below average grade is given to a student then the student will in turn give a poor rating to the institution about their experience with the class and the instructor thus preventing an instructor from being promoted or being awarded tenure at the institution (Jewell & McPherson, 2012).
In light of these studies, there are certain institutions trying to combat the practice of grade inflation and others that refuse to even address this growing trend. A couple of arguments that academic establishments are making is that today’s students are smarter than the ones from decades before and that todays students are more technologically advanced than their previous alum’s (Miller, 2014). However standardized test scores do not support this hypothesis. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) have only risen 1.6% in 2 decades from 1990 to 2000 which would contradict those 2 popular arguments made by most academic entities ("Comparing States and Schools," 2010).
Another argument being bounced around is that today’s students which are known as the “millennial generation” have a sense of entitlement. That they feel they are entitled to an A when in reality it should be a B or C+ (Miller, 2014). College students are being called trophy students, due to the practice that you would have received a trophy just for showing up to a sporting event or school function during their younger years. This sense of entitlement then makes today’s student feel that they are entitled to an A just for paying and showing up for class and pressuring the instructor for the grade that they think they deserve and not the grade that they actually earned (Miller, 2014). This also coincides with the popular belief that a B is no longer good enough to secure a high paying position in a company (Miller, 2014).
After reading the studies and theory’s on grade inflation, most of it is clear that these reference articles were written using meta-analysis research. It is my assumption that the Independent Variable is the grading system and that the GPA is the Dependent Variable. So the main finding after reading all the reference articles is that there is a growing development in grade inflation and that academic institutions are in no hurry to change these rising trends.
One of the main implications of instructors passing out inflated grades are that students will not get the full benefit of a proper education and just be allowed to pass the class with an A and a GPA that was not deserving or representing of their true grade. One of the most important things I have come away from with these articles and this essay would be the question, have I ever gotten one of these trumped up grades and how would I know. So if I got an A for an assignment where I did not do my best, what would be the incentive for me to do better on the next assignment? So if I receive a C or a B then it should make me work harder to get an A on any future assignments.

References
2010 College Bound Seniors Results Underscore Importance of Academic Rigor. (2010). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/about/news_info/cbsenior/yr2010/national-release-latinized.pdf
Abbott, W. M. (2008, January/February). The Politics of a Case Study. Change, 32-37.
Jewell, R. T., & McPherson, M. A. (2012, March). Instructor-Specific Grade Inflation: Incentives, Gender, and Ethnicity. Social Science Quarterly, 93.
Merriam-Webster. (2015). grade inflation. In. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grade%20inflation
Miller, G. (2014). Grade Inflation, Gatekeeping, and Social Work Education: Ethics and Perils. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 11, 12-22.

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