Two researchers conducting a study found the percentage of high school seniors graduating with an A average has risen sharply in the last 20 years, even though SAT scores have been dropping.
According to the study conducted by Michael Hurwitz of the College Board and Jason Lee, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education, almost half (47%) of high school seniors in 2016 had an A average, a percentage that had risen from 38.9% in 1998.
In that same time span, average SAT scores fell from 1,026 to 1,002 on a 1,600-point scale.
All of that information suggests that there is widespread grade inflation being practiced across the country. And here’s another interesting tidbit that might lead you to wonder if standards are being lowered: a record number of students graduated from high school last year. The average high school graduation rate now tops 83%, according to federal statistics.
Yet as USA Today notes:
A recent study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that just 56% of college students complete a four-year degree within six years of entering college. For students who start at two-year colleges, it's even worse: Just 29% earn a degree within three years. Examining the academic transcripts of high school graduates in the 18-year period from 1998 to 2016, they found that the average grade point average (GPA) rose from 3.27 to 3.38, even as the average SAT score dropped.
Hurwitz pointed out that an A is now "the modal high school grade,” which certainly points toward grade inflation.
Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke University scholar and founder of the website GradeInflation.com, told USA TODAY that A’s are now three times more common than they were in 1960. He noted that grade inflation increased during the Vietnam War era so professors could ensure that students would remain in college and avoid being drafted.