September 23, 2020

Another Form of Grade Inflation

You may recall Princeton’s proposal to fight grade inflation by putting a quota on the number of A’s that can be awarded. Joe Barillari made a brilliant followup proposal in yesterday’s Daily Princetonian, to fight the “problem” of inflation in students’ ratings of their professors’ teaching.


  1. Brilliant! Though I should admit that I had to check whether this was real or not. On one hand, it was just a bit too funny, but on the other hand some of the professors’ reactions would have not surprised me in the least. This is probably the best satire I’ve read all year.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps more seriously: could not the ELO rating system used by the chess freaks (USCF and FIDE) be used or modified for the purposes of grading/evaluating students?

  3. QrazyQat says:

    I think female faculty would be happy enough to just have any mention of how they’re dressed banned from students’ comments.

  4. Princeton Faculty Passes Grade Quota

    Yesterday the Princeton faculty passed the proposed grade inflation resolution (discussed here), establishing a quota on A-level grades. From now on, no more than 35% of the course grades awarded by any department may be A-level grades, and no more tha…

  5. I suppose the “point” of this satire is that grade inflation isn’t a real problem, and that faculty would shrink from measures to address this non-problem if the shoe were on the other foot.

    However, in my experience, faculty sensibilities are much less delicate than students’. As someone who has been an instructor, and sometimes considered a teaching career once I get out of grad school, I think renorming instructor evaluations against a mean is a fine idea. Even capping the percentage of top scores is not, a priori, an unreasonable measure.

    So bring it on. Fair is fair, and taking steps to fight grade inflation is fair, whether applied to instructors or students.

    Also, the piece was clearly written by a student who has never actually examined typical numbers for instructor evaluations. An average of 4.76/5? For faculty? Ha! Not at UW-CSE at least, and I’d be shocked if it was that high at any medium-to-large university.