An A’s declining worth: Earning what’s fair |

An A’s declining worth: Earning what’s fair

Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny graduates toss their caps in celebration June 9, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny graduates toss their caps in celebration June 9, 2017.

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, 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.

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