Harvard's Problem: Too Many 'A' Grades
Prof blasts grade inflation
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2013 12:52 AM CST
Where did all the Cs go?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Think you have problems? Harvard is dealing with what appears to be an alarming proliferation of A grades, sparking accusations of grade inflation. At a meeting yesterday, longtime professor Harvey Mansfield got Harvard College's dean of undergraduate education to admit that the median grade at the institution is an A- and the most commonly awarded grade is a straight A, the Harvard Crimson reports. Mansfield labeled the lack of lower grades "a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards."

Mansfield, a professor for more than 50 years, believes administrators should step in and ensure a wider distribution of grades so that standards can be kept up and the talent of the best students can get the recognition it deserves. He says he has started giving students two grades—the one they deserve, and one for their transcript. "I didn’t want my students to be punished by being the only ones to suffer for getting an accurate grade," he tells the Boston Globe. "We’re still giving [students] the grades they got in high school," he says. "But once you’re here, you’re in the major leagues. You should face a different standard, a higher standard." Grade inflation certainly isn't limited to Harvard—some 43% of all grades in the US are now As, up from just 15% in 1960, a recent study found.

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Dec 5, 2013 5:36 AM CST
1. So they get A's? Those not working hard for them will not benefit from them in the workplace on Monday morning. This writer worked very hard to maintain a B average in night school at a small Michigan engineering college to get my degree in electrical engineering (BSEE). Most of the professors were working engineers and they knew what was important for a working engineer on Monday morning. They usually graded on a class curve. Especially in Physics, Chemistry and Calculus, test scores may average, for example, from a low of 60 to a high of 95. If that were the case, 60-70 = D, 70-80 = C, 80-90 = B and 90-95 = A. Yes, they graded hard, but the students were better for it. The same was true at another university where I worked hard again to maintain a B average working for my MBA. 2. After 30 years in manufacturing engineering in myriad industries, the bottom line is the same as it always has been. It's like any endeavor in our lives. Whether school, relationships with others, a job, your marriage or ultimate salvation with God, our creator: "You will get out of any endeavor in your life, on average, about what you are willing to put into it." Peace, WLeoB, Canton, MI
Dec 5, 2013 1:01 AM CST
Harvard takes some of "the best of the best" or "the best of the richest" and they are complaining that the students are over achieving. Start taking in the just above average inner city or poor small town kid, then you can see what real achievement from a student can accomplish.
Dec 4, 2013 12:41 PM CST
Been a major problem for waaaaay too long. The only saving grace is that it occurs, mainly, in the fingerpainting areas. But who cares if an English major gets straight A's ? Not much of a problem, but found here and there, in STEM coursework.