Most Common Grade in US Colleges: A

'Consumer-based' education to blame for loosening standards, says report

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2011 6:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – A is for "average," especially at American colleges and universities today—a stunning 43% of all grades in the United States are now A's, according to a new report on grade inflation. That's up from just 15% in 1960 and 31% as recently as 1988, notes the Economix blog at the New York Times. At the same time, the number of bad grades have plummeted, with C's going from 35% in 1960 to just 15% today; D's have dropped from about 11% to 5%.

Private universities are the worst offenders, with A's and B's accounting for 86% of all their grades (as of 2007, the most recent year available); at public schools, A's and B's make up "just" 73% of all grades. The authors of the original study (you can read an abstract here), blame today's “consumer-based approach” to education, saying it “has created both external and internal incentives for the faculty to grade more generously.”

Grade inflation has gotten so bad that 43% of all university and college grades today are A's, according to a new study.
Grade inflation has gotten so bad that 43% of all university and college grades today are A's, according to a new study.   (Shutterstock)
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