Popping the grade bubble

Rapid grade inflation requires an institution-wide policy.

A major cause of the recent financial crisis was credit rating agencies giving nearly everybody who came to them for certification the highest possible credit rating. This meant no one in the financial industry could determine what was risky and what wasnâÄôt. As pointed out in an article in The Minnesota Daily last week, much of the country, including the University of Minnesota, is experiencing a similar problem with student grades. The University gives a 57 percent average of students in a given class an A grade (A or A-). Almost all of the UniversityâÄôs 15 colleges give around 50 percent or more of their students A grades, and the number is over 60 percent for eight of those colleges. When so many students receive the highest possible grade, great students cannot differentiate themselves, and employers have trouble interpreting a studentâÄôs GPA. Princeton University took steps to solve grade inflation in 2004 by capping the A at 35 percent of students. They have found the policy has had no effect on admissions to top medical and law schools. Students are more than a product to be stamped by University quality control and presented to the business community. To reward little effort with high grades serves no one, especially not students who âÄî need we remind the University community âÄî are here to learn. An institutional policy to combat grade inflation could take pressure off professors to grade easily in exchange for good reviews âÄî which can affect promotion and tenure decisions âÄî and allow exceptional students to differentiate themselves. Students working under responsive merit conditions find themselves more intellectually stimulated, engaged and passionate about course material, which in turn elevates quality for all.