The occurrence of grade inflation is affecting the quality of education throughout the system. A lot of students, at every level of education, are promoted to higher grades even though they are unqualified for that grade. Grade inflation is quite similar to the concept of economic inflation in which price of commodities rise leading to fall in the value of money or real purchasing power. It impacts the standard of education in a similar way. Several studies have been made in this regard to confirm that grade inflation is a reality and it is sad to note that this problem is continuously increasing as compared to the previous years. Studies confirm that by making a comparison of grades being currently obtained by the students with grades obtained by them in the past, educational institutions are deliberately awarding higher grades to some of their students. A partial motive to awarding higher grades is the market factor in which their students become competitive while applying for a job or moving to the next level of education (Bok 211). Students receiving higher grades make it difficult to discern the average student, from the above average student, from the exceptional student.
A general perception that by paying more tuition fees, students should be assigned higher grades is also increasingly developing. This phenomenon is similar to paying higher price for a good or service in order to getting maximum benefits from it. Grade inflation has made a significant impact on those colleges and universities that have set high standards of education (Cohen 401). This shows that students today are less educated than in the past. Furthermore, lower grades are also non-competitive in the marketplace therefore students with higher grades which they do not deserve meet the stringent criteria while those getting real grade are often left behind.
Grade inflation in today’s education has made it difficult to discriminate student’s capability. Bain stated that “Awarding unduly higher grades has resulted in the loss of morality among teachers” (76). In order to get best results on their performance, instructor’s award better grades than deserved meaning the main focus of faculty is their performance and not teaching (Bok 76). It is necessary to mention that one of the most important responsibilities of faculty is to evaluate the work of their students. The faculty members need to have a perfect understanding of the grading system in order to make justified evaluations since failure to do so can result in placing students in unjustified grades. However, faculty members, at the same time, should have the freedom of assigning grades which they think are appropriate. As such, there should be a delicate balance to be maintained between understanding grading system and the autonomy of assigning grades as feasible.
The vice of grade inflation is believed to have gained popularity in the decade of 1960s. However, the significant rise in grade inflation took place in 1980s when most private educational institutions adopted the aggressive policy of assigning higher performance grades compared with public institutions. The issue of grade inflation, therefore, is continuously aggravating, creating misconceptions about educational system as a whole. Research made in this regard revealed that “Public schools and colleges are awarding GPA mostly around 3.0 while almost all students in private institutions receive GPA higher than 3.3” (Hunt 174). Also as stated by Rojstaczer, “Data indicate that not only is C an endangered species but that B, once the most popular grade at universities and colleges, has been supplemented by the former symbol of perfection, the A”(A21). This means that the issue of grade inflation is prevalent more at private educational institutions as compared to public institutions.