We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I retrospect, grade inflation is part of the same process that inflated cost, perceived necessity, and government sponsorship of college. A "C" becomes a bad grade, indicative of shoddy work, but acceptable, and enough to keep you in school with the funds flowing. Easier grading increases the amount of undeserved reward, which keeps students (and their parents and the government) coming back for more hits of the juice, as surely as is seen in Vegas. Government money to reward you for this behavior are thus increasingly like buying you drugs to keep you placated.
A lot of us have sensed for years that this was a bad thing, but I don't recall many people connecting these dots. Giving people things they didn't earn is sometimes necessary, out of charity and decency, or as a stage in their training. But it has hidden costs for both giver and recipient. Our gut instinct was correct on this one, even though we might not have had the prescience to discern why.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
43% of American students get As.
Grades are meaningless. They indicate only that the student, can take tests, achieve some measure of memory to effectively regurgitate what the teacher emphasized within the short time period of the class.
It certainly doesn't really give an indication of the students ability to use those ideas, to incorporate them with other knowledge to create new and interesting ideas or innovations.
Sitting in some class for a few weeks or months while the instructor drones on about a topic then writing down things you remember from what has been said, and dare we hope, read is no indication of true grasp of the topic. It could however be some indication of the student's exposure to topics and their ability to possibly build upon the foundation. Assuming attendance however, A, B, C or D is really only an indication of immediate recall compared to the small subset of students that made up the class.
A body of work would be more indicative, globalized testing might work but neither fit well in the spreadsheet world in which we live and die in the modern world.
There are a number of reasons for grade inflation, among them a few that most people are likely to overlook, for example, the role of end-of-the-term student evaluations of the course and instructor. Student evaluations work a little bit like extortion. Most (but fortunately not all) students love and accordingly reward teachers who hand out high grades to their classes. Instructors know that. Instructors want good evaluations because they mean a better departmental performance review, higher pay, advancement in rank, lifetime tenure, and the general approbation of one's peers. Tough graders may be lauded by high-performing students who value what they are taught, but a tough grader is likely to see a lot of criticism from lazy or poor students who seek misplaced revenge for their own poor performance.