Originally Posted by cdfox
Not surprising. I don't recall seeing a comparable point made about Brown or Dartmouth - not that there isn't grade inflation there too. Grade inflation is ubiquitous, I think.
At Brown, grades are not only inflated, F's are invisible -- they don't appear on the transcript. One professor calls this “almost academic fraud."

Fighting grade inflation: a cause without a rebel
By Joseph Zappa
The Brown Daily Herald
March 12, 2014

Data provided by the Office of Institutional Research show that 53.4 percent of grades given at the University during the 2012-2013 academic year were As, a 36 percent increase from the 1992-1993 school year, in which As composed 39.1 percent of all grades.

This percentage would be even higher if the data did not include courses taken on a Satisfactory/No Credit scale.


Grade inflation is a “part of a change in culture on the high end of the academy that goes along with students being more and more credentialed,” said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15, adding that students have come to see any grade below an A as unacceptable.

Students have developed a “sense of entitlement,” said Karen Newman, professor of comparative literature and chair of the department. “They all expect that they will continue to achieve at the high level at which they were achieving in secondary school.”

But Schlissel said an increasingly talented and prepared student body does not necessarily justify a commensurate rise in As.

Several faculty members suggested establishing higher expectations for students.

“Everyone’s coming in within six inches of the ceiling instead of four feet under. Well, let’s raise the ceiling,” said Stephen Nelson, higher education expert and senior scholar in the Leadership Alliance at Brown.

Though Brown students may be more talented than the average student, “it is still possible to distinguish between performance levels at Brown, and that is what we should be doing to give accurate feedback,” said Luther Spoehr, senior lecturer in education.


Several faculty members, as well as Schlissel, cited students’ permission to drop courses until the final exam period as a factor that drives up the percentage of As.

Another explanation for the lack of Cs and comparatively high number of As is the erasure of failures from a student’s transcript, said David Lindstrom, professor of sociology and chair of the department, calling this policy “almost academic fraud.”

Lindstrom said students have asked him to fail them rather than give them Cs.


“Not being more rigorous in grading doesn’t allow room for the truly and unusually gifted student(s) to distinguish themselves,” Schlissel said.

Grades have “lost meaning, and that’s a detriment to our students,” he added, noting that “it’s an illusion that grades help you when everybody gets high grades.”

Grade inflation underprepares students for the harsher evaluation they will encounter in the world beyond Brown, Schlissel said.

High grades may mislead students into pursuing fields for which they are not well-suited, Nelson added.

Several people also expressed worry that grade inflation reduces student work ethic.