Reader/friend Tom B. knows about my interest in grade "deflation" policies, and proceeds to ruin my breakfast by sending me a link to this ludicrous "letter to the editor" by a high-school counsellor (link).
It starts with a made-up assertion:
As the new academic term starts, I’m rooting for this to be the year when students start getting the grades they rightfully earn without high schools and colleges manipulating numbers to protect their institutions from accusations of grade inflation.
Which quickly leads to the conclusion:
Eliminating grade deflation would vastly improve education.
I suppose the Times does not think there is a need to fact-check a "letter to the editor" which doubles as a soft marketing stunt. But anyone who works in education, including many of the readers who responded to this stunt, immediately notices a problem. There is no outcry or movement to deflate student grades. Look at the chart in my post here: grades have been climbing up not down.
This chart says it loudest (the red line are the proportion of As given out):
At the high school level, the upward trend is also unmistakable:
Later on, the author cites the Princeton case, which I discussed here. I winced when she said "Princeton’s method ... was copied throughout the nation." In fact, when Princeton's new president explained to alumni (of which I am one) why he did away with the grade deflation policy, he explicitly said that its peer institutions did not follow suit, causing students and parents to feel that graduates were at a disadvantage in the job market!
Here is a direct quote from Princeton President Eisgruber (with my bolding):
Almost 10 years after its enactment, the policy remained a lightning rod of controversy and a considerable source of stress for many students, parents, alumni, and faculty members. And regrettably, none of our immediate peer institutions followed our example in taking tough measures to address grade inflation. As a result, Princeton, which ought to be renowned for the unsurpassed quality of its teaching, was attracting more attention for the severity of its curve.
In my prior post, I described this situation as a prisoner's dilemma, in which the stable states are that all schools give out more meaningful grades (not happening) or that all schools give out inflated grades.
Richard Grayson, the first printed response to the Times article, hits the nail on its head - the replacement of full-time faculty with adjunct faculty is a major cause of grade inflation.
It appears that in order to get published these days, you have to make up your own facts and generate controversy around them.