Grade Inflation Rates among Different Ability Students

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Abstract

This study compares grade inflation rates among different ability students at a large, open admissions public University. Specifically, this study compares trends in graduating grade point average (GPA) from 1983 to 1996 across low, typical and higher ability students. This study also tests other explanations for increases in graduating GPA. These other explanations are changes in 1) ACT score 2) gender 3) college major and 4) vocational programs. With these other explanations considered, regression results still report an inflationary trend in graduating GPA. Time, as measured by college entry year, is still a significant positive predictor of GPA. More directly, comparisons of regression coefficients reveal lower ability students as experiencing the highest rate of grade increase. Higher grade inflation rates among low aptitude students suggest that faculty might be using grades to encourage learning among marginal students.

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How to Cite
Mc Spirit, S., & Jones, K. E. (1999). Grade Inflation Rates among Different Ability Students. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7, 30. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v7n30.1999
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Author Biographies

Stephanie Mc Spirit, Eastern Kentucky University

Stephanie J. Mc Spirit received her Ph.D. from the University of Buffalo in 1994, after which she accepted a position at Eastern Kentucky University. She is an Assistant Professor of Sociology where she teaches courses in research methods and statistics. For the past three years she has examined trends in grade point averages along with faculty views on grade inflation. This research has been an outgrowth of serving on the EKU Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Grade Inflation.

Kirk E. Jones, Eastern Kentucky University

Kirk E. Jones received his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1991. He has been a member of the faculty at Eastern Kentucky University since 1990. He is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics where he teaches courses ranging from college algebra through real and complex analysis. For the past three years he has served as Chair of the EKU Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Grade Inflation. Recent scholarly activity has been an outgrowth of serving on this University committee.