The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

What Does Getting an “A” Mean Today?

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What does getting an “A” in a class mean? Does it mean students worked relentlessly on their homework and were always alert in class? Or does it mean students did most of their work with little effort? This question is subjective to everyone because of many different schooling experiences throughout the past. 

 Grade inflation, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is “the rise in the average grade assigned to students.” The inflation of grades means that a higher average of students are receiving a higher grade than in previous years. Due to grade inflation, the line between hard work and laziness has blurred when referring to a child’s GPA and work ethic. As of October 2023, according to the article, “If Everyone Gets an A, No One Gets an A” by Tim Donahue, an “A is now the most popular high school grade in America.” The real question is, are these students deserving of the grades they are receiving?  

In past and current years a grading system called the bell curve has been used to show the average grades among students. Something has changed, however, as grade inflation grew. The bell began to center A’s and B’s as the average grade which shifted the middle of the bell heavily to the right side of the scale. 

It is shown that grade inflation can heavily influence a student’s feelings toward self-imposed entitlement to an A in college courses. In the article, “A’s for Everyone!” by Alicia C. Shepard, the college English teacher recounts her and her colleagues’ experiences with children deciding that a B is unacceptable even when they are succeeding. One of Shepard’s colleagues, James Mooney, says “Certainly there are students who are victims of grade inflation in secondary school… They come to college, and the grading system is much more rigorous.”  

Although these professors are grading their students solely based on the work and effort that they have received from them throughout the course, many parents and students are quick to accuse teachers of unfair grading.  Many parents and their children will hassle teachers during the holidays to change grades simply because they are unhappy and not because the students have done anything to prove they are deserving of a higher grade. As Trena Wise says, “Society, that is parents, administrators, central office staff, etc., need to trust teachers as professionals. If a teacher has a good evaluation, then she is a competent educator, and her grade should stand. However, oftentimes, these powers pressure teachers to pass students or go the extra mile in giving students multiple opportunities to turn in late work, to do extra credit, etc.In this statement, Wise is saying that because teachers have gone to college and have been educated on how to properly grade, parents should honor the grades that their child receives without much haggling.  

One possible contributing factor to grade inflation was the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for students to take the SAT and ACT. According to the article “The Misguided War on the SAT,” because the pandemic made accessibility to the SAT and ACT difficult, many colleges “… dropped their requirements that applicants do so[take the SAT and ACT].” Without the test scores, this makes selecting students for elite colleges difficult for college admission officers.   

Due to the dropping of the SAT being a requirement in colleges, there is no longer a predictor for college performance. In the past students could look at their SAT scores and determine how well-suited they thought they would be in a college setting, unlike today.  

Another factor contributing to grade inflation is the sheltering of children in the current generation. As Connor Lee, a political science major at Gonzaga University, states, “Grade inflation is academia’s version of the participation trophies in youth sports. When the whole class gets an A, colleges are telling us that mediocrity equals excellence.” This mindset will make it extremely hard for students to transition into the real world where their employers are not going to indulge them.  

If grade inflation is not addressed and taken seriously, it could grow in the coming years which would leave the younger generation at an enormous disadvantage. How can students ever grow their minds when they are told they are already “good enough” and not challenged to create their best possible work?  

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