Tyler Durden's picture

While the BLS may be searching far and wide for evidence of hedonically-adjusted "core" inflation, and not finding it anywhere (expect in assets, housing prices, food and energy, but apparently all America buys every day are LCD TVs and iPads), one place where not even the BLS can hide what is clear and present "inflation" is college grade point averages, and especially grades for humanities courses, where as the saying goes pretty much everyone is "above average." And, as JPM adds, "Soon, colleges will have to “turn the dial up to 11” or else everyone will have the maximum GPA." Well, in a society where the push is to make everyone equal, it would only be fair for everyone to get the exact same perfect grades...

Some perspective from Michael Cembalest:

In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “the women are strong, the men are good-looking and all the children are above average”. Regarding US private and public universities, Keillor got the last part right. As shown below, the mean grade point average at US private and public schools has been increasing at a steady pace since 1970. Soon, colleges will have to “turn the dial up to 11” or else everyone will have the maximum GPA. As per the study from which the data is sourced, the 1960’s jump took place when the purpose of a GPA changed from being a motivator for students to being a measure used for external evaluation. GPA increases since 1970 are seen as a by-product of student evaluations of teachers (i.e., tough-grading teachers get bad evaluations, and eventually become extinct). Humanities courses have seen the highest grade inflation. Lower grades in science and engineering apparently discourage some students from pursuing them; do not let that affect you.

If it seems like people put too much importance on GPA, I would agree. What you learn is more important than what grades you get. However, you should also be aware of the realities of the job market. In the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2013 Survey, GPA importance hit an all-time high: 78% of employers screen candidates based on grade point averages.

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Bennie Noakes's picture

In the mid-60's there was a lot of buzz about grade inflation due to the Vietnam war. Fear that young men with student draft deferrments would get sent off to the jungles of Southeast Asia if they flunked out.

Don't know about 1956-63. Maybe there was a feeling that giving poor grades promoted inequality. Possibly linked to the growing civil rights movement.

knukles's picture

The epitome of "No Child Left Behind" is our droning of innocent brown children in the ME.

Seasmoke's picture

Last week I gave two different college age male cashiers Change , so I could get just dollars back.(ie. 20.35 on $12.35 bill ) They both looked at me like WTF dude you just messed up my day... I walked away both times with pocketful of change

NotApplicable's picture

Whenever I do that, I tell them the solution in advance, so they don't have to try and think.

Froman's picture

Because they are taking classes like this (below) in English instead of actually studying the English language...The listing below is from the Winter 2014 catalogue at Union College (heard about it from a student who was unhappy that it was a required course for English majors at that College)

Cls 037036

EGL-305-01 Jr Seminar: Beatles/Dylan Y WLDC 028+ MW 03:05PM-04:45PM Jenkins, H. WAC 13 15


deerhunter's picture

Private high school grading scale where I attended  96-100 A  90-95 B 85-89 C 80-84 D  below 79 don't matter.  High school public school,,,, grading curve,,,, yipppeeee you are all extra special,, deserve it all,  no work, no reading no math,, no matter.  World stage,  USA in math and science,  D  equals dismal,,, we graduated fewer engineers in all fields last year than we did in 1950 and our population is probably twice as large.  Exceptional indeed.  We have great talent in text messaging and not communicating with our neighbors or people we come in contact with every day.  God help us.   

Froman's picture

Same scale that we had at private HS, grade and middle school as well. 

darteaus's picture

And half the graduating engineers came from China, India, or some other non-US country.  We study Business Management so we can move immediately from the classroom to the boardroom.

Bobbyrib's picture

Well, it's not like if the US started to graduate engineers and computer science majors that US corporations would hire them. Visa labor is a hell of a lot cheaper. People are willing to work longer hours for less pay.

Kayman's picture

You left out Master of Gaming and Ph. D. in Twitting.

darteaus's picture

It's so obviously phoney given SAT score decline and comparative test scores internationally.

darteaus's picture

My wife's an AP teacher who has been on medical leave.  Her substitute got fired because he could not pass the CBEST teaching test - think dumbed down SAT.  So, to avoid controversy from the influential parents (this being Silicon Valley), he gave EVERY single student (115) an A grade!

My wife returns in January, these students need to take their AP exams in May, and they've never had a vocab test!

Your tax dollars at waste!

knukles's picture

Ah, socialism at work in the People's Republic.
To which the union says pay us more to better yer kidz edmucashun.

When we moved here from Ct eons ago, my daughter went into our area's (very good schools they say, here in CA) high school and in her senior year was regurgitating drivel she'd has in Jr High and fresh/soph in CT

ummh muh

Hulk's picture

I assure you that CT schools have now "caught up"...

FreedomGuy's picture

As a dedicated leftist looking at your remarks I would diagnose the problem as insufficient government money and public school spending. I think if you doubled the salary of the substitute and put walnut desks in the class that they could all achieve more. Besides, we do not want to handcuff teachers by forcing them to teach to a meaningless test.

Bazza McKenzie's picture

Note GPA has gone up during the period when the "everyone needs and deserves a college education" philosophy has guaranteed that the average IQ of college entrants has actually gone down.

No wonder all that money is flowing to the education establishment.  Its ability to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is beyond price.

NotApplicable's picture

Well, it's for "the children," dontcha know?

LawsofPhysics's picture

Bingo, time for more schools of "hard knox".

nature and the laws of physics will make it so anyway.

Bobbyrib's picture

A lot more people are going to college, but as you suggest that isn't necessarily a good thing.

knukles's picture

Notice the other meme at work these days.

Everybody's got to get a college degree to be able to get a good, etc., etc., yetch, barf, etc., etc

When I was a boy, there were vocational high schools where kids got the reading writing and math skills.
No joke
And learned a trade.

Whaz wrong wid dat?
Oh, my Lordie Lordie, Lordie, we did that anymore then we wouldn't have need for the immigrants (legal and whatever's PC to call them now) to come into the country...
Oh nevethefuckmind...

Two cognitively dissonant policies

Financed with our dollars for your benefit by unelected people who otherwise don't give a crap and exempt.....
Oh never...

Miss Expectations's picture

Check out what Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) is up to:

A trillion dollars in student loans. Record high unemployment. Three million good jobs that no one seems to want. The goal of Profoundly Disconnected is to challenge the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success. The Skills Gap is here, and if we don’t close it, it’ll swallow us all. Which is a long way of saying, we could use your help…


Stuck on Zero's picture

Here was the grading criteria for my Son's 8th grade science class: 30% for class participation, 25% for neatness, 25% for working well with others, 10% for getting assignments in on time, and 10% for comprehension.

Yee Gawds.  Isn't comprehension everything?


keninla's picture

I retired from teaching high school mathematics 2 years ago. In the 20 years that I taught (2nd career) I saw a steady decline in student ability in entering my classes.


In my algebra 2 classes the first thing I always did was to give the students a simple 20 questions add, subtract, mult. divide test. Most of them got scores less than 12 when an algebra 2 student should get all 20 correct. I saved the results as part of my CYA file so I could show admin and parents why there was a 60 % failure rate.


In order to get into algebra 2 they must pass algebra 1 and geometry. How did they pass? It was summer school and something called credit recovery where no one fails.

Yep - let no one fail lest their little feelings get hurt.


almost forgot: the students would spend more time in trying to figure out how to cheat on the test than studying for the test.


nakki's picture

Went to a graduation 2 years ago at a private prep HS with 320 students in the graduating class. Over half had a perfect GPA (4.0). I asked the kid who graduated how was this posibble? Was he a straight "A" student? He told me that  he wasn't but they could get 5.0's for AP classes, and for extra credit assignments. So not only did half graduate with a 4.0 half of those or 25% graduated with a GPA higher than 4.0 even though 4.0 was supposedly the highest GPA at the school

pashley1411's picture

The spirit of the age is to render all social, cultural, and economic organizations, worthless,

Pop culture, sports, the military, money, college, science, grades, personal records, relationships, beer, beef, bimbos.   The spirt of the demos is to render everything it touches into having the consistency and value of warm piss.  

I think the only things worth having are 30's movies, cans of Spam, and old style concrete bunkers.    Probably smokeless tobacco as well.



itstippy's picture

A well-worn hat, comfortable chair, break-open shotgun, and old hound dog would be nice to have too.  Sit on the front porch with Ol' Blue at my feet and the shotgun on my knees; tell the rest of the world to, "G'wan - git!"

Sigh.  Mrs. Tippy wouldn't go for that for very long; she thinks I'm too ornery as it is.

FreedomGuy's picture

...and a few decent friends who remember independence.

Suisse's picture

Maybe some smokeless powder too?

Wahooo's picture

Higher ed was doomed when they started teaching political science. There is no science in it. We should have been warned.

fallout11's picture

It is a rampant problem in Taiwan and S. Korea as well. In short, not just a US problem.

AurorusBorealus's picture

Let me tell you a story of how grade inflation actually occurs.  It was my 4th year in graduate school as a Teaching Assistant in history.  I had been a "tough" grader, giving the grades that each student deserved.  The professors did not seem to mind an reviewed my grading techniques each term and decided they were acceptable.  Now each term, several young ladies would come to my office to ask what they could do to improve their grades; in most cases, they wore revealing outfits and flirted with me.  I had arranged with a friend, whose desk was near mine, to always have office hours at the same time, so that we could always serve as witnesses for one another, in case any young lady should make an unwarranted accusation (because even 1 accusation from a woman, any woman, is enough the gynocracy of the American University to forever bar a male would-be professor from any type of employmeny).  Eventually, the inevitable happened, one of the little tramps that came to my office in a miniskirt and cutoff without underwear (probably a Communications or Education major, since they were always the ones getting terrible grades and pulling these tricks), accused me of sexual harassment because I would not change her grade from a D to a C.

I was called before a tribunal of 3 professors, 2 of whom were radical, lesbian feminists, and asked to present my side of the story (they already had the little harlots version of events).  They had already decided to revoke my fellowship at the University in question (and I was told that, unless I had a "very good explanation" for what happened, I would be expelled from the university).  At that moment, I demanded, against their protests, that I be allowed to present a witness (as this was to be a private meeting and tribunal).  I produced my friend, who had been hiding in the lavatory near the Department Chair´s office, much to their dismay and surprise, who insisted that my version of events was accurate and provided a sworn, notarized statement affirming my innocence.  I then threatened to call an attorney.  Reluctantly, the angry feminists backed down (quietly assuring me that though I may have saved my skin for the moment, they would do everything in their power to ensure that I never worked in a U.S. university again).  After these events, I never hesitated to change the grade for any young women to whatever she asked... and rarely gave anyone a D again...

Canoe Driver's picture

Believable, and the only solution this late in the game is to stand up to it.  A camera in the office maybe?

debtandtaxes's picture

Ok, here's another story....

20 years ago in 1st year university in Toronto I was a mature student who paid my own way and really wanted to achieve. My environmental studies class (a story on its own) was a maga-class of 2-300 and full of useless idiots because it was the "easy" science course that could fulfill your science requirement. Hell, that's why I picked it, too!  But from day one I got straight A's. How could you *not* when tests were multiple choice questions and/or open book.

Well after Xmas holidays the prof responded to complaints about his "tough" marking. Kids complained they were not getting A's and wanted him to curve up. He responded saying "What about the kids who earned their A?" at which point I raised my hand and agreed that it wasn't fair to "water down" the A I worked for. I made few friends - but there were other kids who privately told me they agreed with me...


Lordflin's picture

My son's high school chemistry class did not teach balancing chemical equations until well into the second semester (something I use to cover five weeks into the first semester in a regular high school course, by the end of the first week in AP). When I confronted the instructor he suggested that it was now thought that chemistry as it had been taught was too difficult, and was discouraging students from pursueing it as a career.

The second semester I actually caught him teaching reactions that could not actually take place. He could not understand the problem. I have since come to understand that teaching something that is true is no longer considered necessary. The objective is rather that the student have the experience of learning.

dunce's picture

How many art history, social scientists, and English literature grads does the S&P 500 need to hire each year no matter what their GPA??

esum's picture

what happened to the gentleman's C 



madcows's picture

In our public grade schools they no longer give out report cards with alphabetical grades.  They give out evaluations.  They don't even bother anymore.  Wouldn't want all the stupid kids to get their feelings hurt.  Don't want to have a record of non-achievement to be held too with regards to federal funding.  Etc...  public schools suck.  That's what you get with union labor.  nobody is to be held accountable.  lowest common denominator applicants only, please.

monad's picture

How many children must the Colorado public education system murder before these children are all returned to their mothers and these "schools" are banned? Guns didn't do this, a facility full of dysfunctional adults did, slowly, with intent, over many years. And the time before this. And the time before that. And the time before that...