by Caroline Roffe
Grade inflation is a problem that plagues many colleges that wish to provide their students a vigorous curriculum and accurately reflect their performance in school. While the main issue with grade inflation is that it hinders this wish, there are a few other complications that arise with grade inflation. Here are a few examples:
1) Grade compression: As the lowest grades get higher and closer to the highest possible grades, there are inherently fewer grades to give. This causes all students to be ranked at very similar academic abilities regardless of reality. According to a case study about the politics of grade inflation conducted by The Magazine for Higher Learning, as grades become “more concentrated in the upper ranges, less discrimination is possible among the varied levels of student performance.”
2) Uneven grades: Inflation affects all professors, departments and administrations differently, so even if all grading inflates, it inherently inflates unevenly and causes inconsistency in student evaluation.
3) Cycle between grade inflation and teacher evaluations: Teachers feel pressure to raise grades to earn the approval of their students in yearly evaluations. As the students adjust, the pressure is on again and the cycle starts over at an even higher level.
4) Lack of adequate feedback: When there are only a few grading options to receive, students are satisfied with lower quality work because they get the grade they want out of it. Students do not want to improve or find it challenging when the lowest grade they can easily receive is a B.
5) Universities cannot compare to one another: If one school always gives higher grades than another because it is more inflated, it is tricky for graduate schools to gauge which student is actually more capable than the other. Questions arise about whether it is the student who earned high grades or the university he/she was in that inflated them.