GRADE INFLATION AT THE POST SECONDARY LEVEL
A recent study, , collects historical data from 80 schools, in some cases dating back to the 1920s, and conclude clear evidence of nationwide grade inflation over time, and regular differences between classes of schools and departments. Main historical trends identified include:
a divergence in average grades between public and private institutions, starting in the 1950s; •
a widespread sharp rise in grades from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s; •
relatively little change in grades from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s; •
a slow rise in grades from the mid-1980s to present.
The average at private schools is currently 3.3, while at public schools it is 3.0. This difference is partly but not entirely attributed to differences in quality of student body, as measured by standardized test scores or selectivity. After correcting for these factors, private schools grade on average .1 or .2 points higher than comparable public schools, depending on which measure is used. There is significant variation in grading between different schools, and across disciplines. Between classes of schools, engineering schools grade lower by an average of .15 points, while public flagship schools grade somewhat higher. Across disciplines, science departments grade on average .4 points below humanities and .2 points below social sciences. While engineering schools grade lower on average, engineering departments grade comparably to social sciences departments, about .2 points above science departments. These differences between disciplines have been present for at least 40 years, and sparse earlier data suggests that they date back 70 years or more. Until recently, the evidence for grade inflation in the US has been sparse, largely anecdotal, and sometimes even contradictory; firm data on this issue was not abundant, nor was it easily attainable or amenable for analysis. National surveys in the 1990s generally showed rising grades at American colleges...
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