Earlier this week, a Harvard University administrator confirmed that the most common grade given to undergraduates at the Ivy League school is an “A,” refuelling speculation of grade inflation.
But it does not appear that Harvard is an outlier in how it grades its students. In response to a recent Quora thread asking “What does the distribution of Yale GPAs look like?,” Yale alumnus Aaron Lichtig highlights two key findings from a faculty committee on grade inflation:
- Last year, a 3.8 grade point average was the cutoff for Latin honours (cum laude and above), which are limited to the top 30% of the class. That means at least 30% of each class rarely if ever received a grade lower than an A-.
- In spring 2012, 62% of all grades at Yale College were an A or A-minus, compared with 10% in 1963 and 40% in 1974.
Lichtig also points out that while the humanities have often been seen having some of the most lenient grading, the mean GPA in natural sciences has also risen in recent years. According to a recent article in the Yale Alumni Magazine, “In some departments, there’s almost no room left in the scale for inflation.”
Some Yale professors attribute the grading shift to the better quality of students currently at the university. “I can think back 40 years to students I thought of as ‘gentleman’s-C’ types. I don’t have any of those now. It’s been so long since I’ve had even one student who seemed to be coasting or just wanted to pass the course. The lower range just isn’t there anymore,” one longtime professor told the Alumni Magazine.
Yale is currently considering a system that would recommend certain percentages for each grade — such as 35% of A-range grades — similar to the grading system at Princeton University.
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