Through the years I've listened to colleagues and read commentators who become operatic about grade inflation and evangelistic about "reestablishing standards." But my half-century experience with college students would seem to parallel Clifford Adelman's findings: today's students are different from earlier learners but no worse; they are just as bad. Here's an excerpt from "Dangerous Myths of Grade Inflation," Chronicle Review, 11/8/02.
"To get a more accurate picture of whether grades have changed over the years, one needs to look at official student transcripts. Clifford Adelman, a senior research analyst with the U.S. Department of Education, did just that, reviewing transcripts from more than 3,000 institutions and reporting his results in 1995. His finding: "Contrary to the widespread lamentations, grades actually declined slightly in the last two decades." Moreover, a report released just this year by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that fully 33.5 percent of American undergraduates had a grade-point average of C or below in 1999-2000, a number that ought to quiet "all the furor over grade inflation," according to a spokesperson for the Association of American Colleges and Universities. (A review of other research suggests a comparable lack of support for claims of grade inflation at the high-school level.)"
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