Our examination of nationwide trends indicates that grading practices were largely constant for decades, but grade distributions have undergone gradual yet very significant changes since the 1960s. For the schools in our database, the number of A’s awarded has increased to such a degree that A is now ordinary. On average, A is now by far the most common grade awarded on American four-year campuses. Substandard grades, D and F, typically are awarded less than 10% of the time even on campuses with students of modest academic caliber.Source, via.
Our data (Figure 1) show that in 1960, as in the 1940s and 1950s, C was the most common grade nationwide; D’s and F’s accounted for more grades combined than did A’s. On average, instructors were assigning grades by using a slightly skewed normal distribution curve centered at about a C+. By 1965, however, B had supplanted C as the most common grade, and D’s and F’s were becoming increasingly less common. From the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, grades rose rapidly across the nation, and A became the second most common grade awarded...
The Vietnam era was followed by a decline in A’s that lasted for roughly a decade. Awarding of A’s began to rise again in the mid-1980s. From 1984 to the mid-2000s, the proportion of A’s increased by a fact or of 1.5. By 2008, A’s were nearly three times more common than they were in 1960.
Our data on historical grade distribution averages agree well with other studies that have compiled grade distributions and GPAs from university-based data (Edson, 1955; Juola, 1976, 1980; Perry,1943; Sus low, 1976).
11 December 2013
Nationwide collegiate grade inflation