Harvard's Problem: Too Many 'A' Grades

Prof blasts grade inflation

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 4, 2013 12:52 AM CST

(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.

Where did all the Cs go?
Where did all the Cs go?   (Shutterstock)
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