A is for average
Education is, whether loose or not loose, a structured system. And like all structured systems, it has its own form of standardized judgment: grades.
Since our institutional education began as students, grading has been the means of gauging our mental and sometimes social growth.
Although the specific grading scale may be different throughout the various institutional levels, the importance of receiving the highest possible marks has always been stressed by those who hope to mold young minds into successful adult minds.
“Good grades mean a good future,” said almost every parent ever.
But do A’s and gold stars really hold the weight that we’ve come to believe them to hold?
According to Stuart Rojstaczer, founder of GradeInflation.com, 50 percent of the grades given at most universities are A’s.
Things obviously haven’t always been that way, though.
According to a GradeInflation.com study, the average GPA at colleges has risen from 2.52 in the 1950s to 3.11 in 2006.
Either the average college student’s intelligence has grown drastically over the past 50 years or, as Furman University computer science professor Christopher Healy said, the A doesn’t mean the same thing it used to.
“It has no particular significance except that everybody agrees that it’s a really good grade,” Healy said. “It’s an unsustainable trend.”
In response to this trend, Ivy League schools like Princeton and Yale have instituted policies that limit the number of A’s professors can assign their students.
Couple all this with the ongoing argument over the validity of standardized testing, and the modern educational system should seem uneven, or maybe even unfair, to anyone.
That unfairness in mind, a recent study published in PLOS One states that grades do help graduates secure jobs and that a student’s final GPA determined whether or not a student was accepted into graduate school.
So, despite the imbalance in the modern grading landscape, A’s are proving to be valuable.
For those soon-to-be-graduates, who in their twilight months of college decided to throw caution to the wind and sleep through their classes everyday, remember: Our parents were right.