A much bigger and wider scandal rages on college campuses these days than rich parents bribing schools to admit their kids: grade inflation, which overstates academic achievement and misleads employers when these kids graduate. G. K. Chesterton once observed that something can be so big that many do not see it. Getting into college unfairly through bribes and getting a job unfairly through grade inflation both are immoral and unjust.
A March 30 article by Thomas Lindsay in Forbes cites data that should alarm us, A 5-plus year nationwide study of the history of college grading finds that, in the early l960s, an A grade was awarded in colleges nationwide 15 percent of the time. But today, an A is the most common grade; the percentage of A grades has tripled, to 45 percent nationwide. Seventy-five percent of all grades awarded now are either As or Bs. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported in 2013 that 66 percent of employers screen candidates by grade point average.
The Forbes article continues: The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation also has studied college grading. The foundation confirms the alarming findings cited above. It found that in l969, only 7 percent of students at two- and four-year colleges reported that their grade point average was A or higher. Yet in 2009, 41 percent of students reported as same. During the same period, the percentage of C grades given dropped from 25 to five percent.
Now heres the problem by way of my own experience: when I was a vice president at Hillsdale College a parent asked if the college had grade inflation. I said noto which he responded: Thats unfair. My kid goes to your school and gets Bs; he goes to the college down the road and gets As. Which kid do you think employers will hirethe A student or the B one? My college, he argued, should impose grade inflation to keep student competition for employment on equal grounds.