Grade Inflation

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Grade inflation runs rampant in American colleges and universities. The average GPA at private schools — on a four-point scale — has risen from 3.09, in the 1991–2 academic year, to 3.30, in 2006–7.

Over the same period, public school GPAs inflated from 2.85 to 3.01.

Now, after five more years of progress, I can only imagine what’s average. Actually, no, I can do more than imagine; I can project with some confidence:

Over the last 50 years, GPAs have increased by roughly 0.1 to 0.2 per decade (on the high end for private schools and on the low end for public schools), a rate that is consistent with the trends over the 16 years noted in the first figure.


  1. Ben says:

    I notice Purdue is the only school that shows zero grade inflation in this chart. In 2008 Purdue changed from a 6.00 = A to the more common 4.00 = A. I wonder if this was accounted for in the graph.

  2. After 30 years I am back in education. The kids across the board are dumber and lazier. I think this is a function of teachers wanting to keep their jobs.

  3. Bruce Charlton says:

    You probably already know it, but this may explain what’s going on. I particularly liked Figure 7.

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