Grade Inflation and Distribution: Decades of Regression

Grade Inflation and Distribution: Decades of Regression

In the age where the line between efficiency and morality has been thinning out exponentially, students tend to cope with the ever-increasing workloads by being lazy. In a certain context, that sounds very accurate and perhaps even haunting for the success of today’s kids. But with a brief dive into the world of statistics and comparisons, a new worldview may manifest to change the student’s approach to education.

Online Resources as a Physical Substitute

Schools have stepped into unfamiliar territory with the introduction of online resources into the knowledge pool of students. Anything ranging from a basic blog post focused on a particular tutorial (or any essay help, really) to contests that award students with cash prizes or scholarships for their creative contributions. This electronic take on independent student endeavor takes a big chunk of the institutions’ responsibility of actually teaching: this can be a double-edged sword. First of all, this is a potential cause for the recent grade inflation around the U.S. which can be interpreted as fraud. Students are given trophies, sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally, for only showing up and paying tuition to get a degree.

The researchers’ data shows how A’s have become the most common grade awarded at colleges
The researchers’ data shows how A’s have become the most common grade awarded at colleges.

This chart shows the progressive increase of the A grade over the last few decades and its ascension to the most given grade in colleges around the country. Grade inflation of this extent has been first noted during the US involvement in the Vietnam War era which escalated in the 60’s, more on that here. The most interesting part is that, on average, students are not studying more. They are also not smarter, but they receive higher grades than their forefathers. People that receive A’s simply do not take it as seriously anymore. Students that do take education seriously  get upset and feel inadequate for receiving the same grade as a student that clearly spent less time on mastering a subject. This feeling of inadequacy is better seen in the context of the “big fish, small pond” theory.

Big Fish, Small Pond

The big fish, small pond situation describes somebody who is overqualified or is competing in a limited arena, having no room for significant growth. Alternatively, there is a reciprocal understanding of a small fish in a big pond which is presumably the cause for the ever-increasing student feeling of inadequacy in educational institutions. The gradual interpretation of students as customers has fueled the education business to treat them as so: the customer is always right. The rising tuition costs do not help the case, if a customer wants a grade, then they must have it because they pay a hefty amount of money for the services that they receive. How can society identify true achievement when nearly everyone can get a degree just by signing up and paying the tuition?

The Era of Writing Services

So what role do the essay writing services play here? The essay writing services have crowded around the market of the “spoiled” students. While it is unfair to assign such a derogatory word to the student population, this generalization is a fair assessment of the average American student compared to the average success of someone their caliber a few decades ago. The function of cheap, but nonetheless paid essay help is straightforward: you save your time, and we get your work done for you. The result of such a function may be different when it comes to the type of ‘fish’ the consumer is. If they are overqualified and just want to boost their efficiency, then it is a way for them to get assignments out of the way. But if the student is struggling and may feel inadequate when compared to their peers, then this approach may be destructive to their further education. The literacy level upon graduation has not changed since 1992; a statistic like that is not hopeful for the future. was kind enough to provide an insight into the type of student that tends to use their services. As stated by them, the customers are usually those who have not yet learned the skill of dividing their workload. Those that study and work to make ends meet (which is becoming a recurring pattern) are willing to sacrifice the money to get a grade for a class they simply do not have time to prepare for. The most surprising thing is that Ivy League (among other high-level universities) students use these services just to wrap up the deadlines.

One way of looking at the situation where even the smartest people get their work done for them is that the educational system is flawed. While instructors have moved towards a more creative and problem-solving approach to providing information to the ever-evolving world, it does not seem to be enough. Systems like the Minerva Schools or Mastery Learning can have an intelligence ceiling or a massive paywall that few can access. More progressive methods are not catered to the average citizen, and that deeply regresses the academic, and thus financial, progress of today’s upcoming adults. Universities become more expensive, but grades become easier to get. Indeed a paradox.

What Must be Done

The underlying point is, it is the time that institutions combine forces to stimulate progress within the educational community so that the students are not left to their own devices to extract the necessary knowledge that they think they need as opposed to the knowledge that they require. Plenty of school systems have made developments in creating progressive systems to spark the creative fire within the students.

On the subject of selecting a school, the fish metaphor still applies. Where should the students settle to achieve the most success? Statistically, students are more likely even to get a degree if they do not go to their top pick because of, once again, the big fish phenomenon. Sometimes, it is a much better decision to progress through school or university being one of the smartest in that pool of students, but maybe not on the global level. There will always be somebody who is better than you, and that is okay. It is about making a significant impact, and producing quality work on the level one is comfortable with rather than delving into the rabbit hole of inadequacy comparatively to the rest of the big pool that one can only be a small fish in.

The importance of quality education in a rapidly changing world must be stressed. It is not all bad news; there are people revolutionizing education on a daily basis. It is just a matter of enough influential people committing to the cause. The United States invests a ridiculous amount of money into education, and that is a good sign. It is just a matter of time that instructors shift their priority from basically doing business and assigning grades based on demand, and giving out grades that students deserve to make sure that classrooms are always in a healthy competitive state.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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