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I find the justifications for high grades revealing. For example, students from Ivy and Ivy like schools tend to score high on SATs and thus on LSATs. An argument advanced is the high LSAT scores would, if you work backwards using all applicants, generate a higher GPA than the already inflated one or at least one that's similar. That of course assumes LSATs are the best measure and the lever for calculation. Which is a way of perpetuating the reputation and prestige of these schools.


jonathan: As they say, getting in to the Ivies is the hardest part. It used to be an observation; now it is a law. I wonder if there are studies on high school grade inflation as well. That would be fascinating to look at.

Sue VanHattum

It just might be possible that the students who worked so hard to get into those schools kept working hard and really did earn those grades.

A quota on A's is unjust. I took French at University of Michigan. I think I was doing pretty well, but I got a C because I wasn't in the top x% of the class.


Sue: I think I do a great job at work, I work longer hours than most, my "customers" like my work, etc. Why am I earning a C salary compared to the top brass? Why is academic performance different from work performance or sports performance?


There's the same inflation tendency with job performance ratings in industry.

In response, some companies have fixed distribution (10% 5 ratings, 20% 4 ratings, 40% 3 ratings, 20% 2 ratings, 10% 1 ratings, for example).

The next step in such a system is to annually fire all the 1's -- i.e. annually fire the lowest 10%. Of course, job ratings are even more subjective than grades in a course. (I had one manager rate an employee a 5 (best) -- the next year, in the same job with a different manager, she was rated a 1 (worst).)

It's a harsh world out there, and grade inflation doesn't really prepare you for it.


zbicyclist: Totally agree. It's really odd that only in academics should everyone be considered excellent. The extent of the grade inflation has also been underestimated as it doesn't take into account the big increase in access to college over these decades.

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