Grade Inflation: Everything You Need to Know

Grade inflation refers to the process of conferring higher grades on students than what was actually obtained in the subject. Sometimes, this is done because the teacher has low expectations or to keep the school’s reputation intact.

For example, high schools prefer to look good compared to other high schools having less grade inflation. Therefore, it’s advantageous for them to distribute high grades even if those aren’t fully earned. This makes the teachers appear more efficient and the student body more high-achieving.

Teachers may give higher grades to students who’ve not fully earned them due to various reasons. For instance, they don’t want to prevent students from participating in extracurricular activities or ruin their chances for college. These days, a significantly higher number of students attend college, and hence, the average grades have considerably risen. For a student hoping to be accepted to college, a decent GPA plays a crucial role, and teachers don’t want to damage anyone’s future.

Grade inflation has different types of positive and negative consequences for students.

Grade inflation in high schools means that a higher number of students will get good GPAs and better opportunities for attending higher education institutions. But as colleges are aware of grade inflation, many have established higher admissions standards.

If students are failing a class, they may stop trying or completely drop out of school. However, as teachers are giving fewer failing grades, it has become less common nowadays. For future employment prospects, earning at least a high school diploma is very important. Many students who otherwise would’ve failed out of school might have access to a more favorable future due to different forms of grade inflation.

One of the negative aspects of grade inflation is that differentiating between students becomes more difficult. Since lots of students receive high scores, it can be difficult to separate average students from exceptional students.

If admission teams of colleges observe that a particular high school demonstrates GPA distribution patterns that point out grade inflation. This makes it difficult for them to separately identify average students and excellent students without utilizing test scores. Therefore, the admission decision will depend more on test scores and less on GPA, which may be detrimental for some students.

For instance, a student may be very academically driven but obtain an average standardized test score because they didn’t get the time to prepare effectively. This student would be negatively affected by grade inflation because their high GPA wouldn’t carry much value in the eyes of colleges.

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