Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
This is an archived post. Please click here to see the latest entries.
Grades Creeping Up on You
One of the main problems with grade inflation is that too many folks consciously or subconsciously consider it to be a static issue. In other words, people freely admit that grades are (too) high, and that they’ve risen significantly. But what doesn’t get talked about nearly enough is how grade inflation is a moving target. Just like our economic indicators, grades don’t stand still. In fact, if you pay enough attention, you might be able to feel the shift right under your feet. Year to year, even term to term, grades continue to rise at Dartmouth and at many other institutions of higher learning.
Let’s examine the last decade of median grades at the College. The chart below shows the percentage of courses (with an enrollment greater than ten) with each median grade. You can see the inflation that has taken place in the span of just a few graduating classes.
In 2001, only 128 of the 1,340 qualifying courses had A medians. Ten years later, 241 of 1,501 courses awarded A’s to their middling students. That’s an increase of 68% in just one decade. The percentage of courses with median grades of A- and above have gone up; they now make up a majority of the courses at the College.
The flip side is that lower grades are being phased out. B+, a well-above average score for previous generations in Hanover, was the most common median in 2001, with 37% of all courses. Its standing has eroded consistently since then, to the point where last year only 28% of courses handed out a B+ to the typical student.
The 2011 academic year saw the highest median grades since… 2010, which had the highest medians since, you guessed it, 2009. There’s no stagnation here. Rather, we’re reaching new heights (depths?) every term.
With the administration and faculty not paying attention, poor work has become mediocre, and mediocre has become good. That’s the academic world we live in now, and it shows us that a big first step in the grading battle would simply be to curb further inflation. We can worry about making grades more meaningful again after we’ve stopped the bleeding.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
Subscribe by Email
This website reflects the personal opinions of its authors. Any e-mails received may be published along with the full name of the sender. If you wish otherwise, please say so.
All content appearing at Dartblog.com should be presumed copyright 2004-2018 its respective bylined author unless otherwise noted or unless linked to original source.