An A’s declining worth: Earning what’s fair
The “curve” on which students once were graded has been distorted beyond recognition by grade inflation at the high-school level, where the portion of graduates with A grade-point averages “has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen,” USA Today reports.
Researchers from the SAT-running College Board and the University of Georgia found grade-A-average students increased from 38.9 percent of high-school graduates in 1998 to 47 percent in 2016. During that period, however, they also found the “average SAT score fell from 1,026 to 1,002 on a 1,600-point scale.” And as high-school grads’ average SAT scores fell over those 18 years, their average GPA rose from 3.27 to 3.88, according to a Harvard Graduate School of Education study.
It’s all too reminiscent of what’s been going on in higher education since the 1960s — when, GradeInflation.com founder and former Duke University scholar Stuart Rojstaczer says, professors increasingly issued higher grades to keep students from dropping out and losing their college deferments from the Vietnam-era draft. Today, he says, almost half of all college grades are A grades.
It’s incumbent upon teachers, students, parents, school boards, superintendents, state and federal education officials and the College Board to address average SAT scores’ disconnect with high-school grades. Otherwise, high-school A grades will remain worth less than they were decades ago — or lose even more value.