Classes at the University have not been exempt from the national trend toward grade inflation that has made grade point averages less useful in judging scholastic performance. In an effort to make transcripts more meaningful, the faculty of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts approved a new proposal on Monday that will include class size and median grade next to a student’s grade. This is a welcome change that will make it easier to judge students’ performance accurately, and it should be extended throughout the University.

The new system will have the largest effect on students in large introductory courses that tend to have low class medians. Receiving a B in one of these courses has more significance than receiving an A in a class with an A median, yet transcripts do not currently provide any information that could be used to compare grading policies across courses.

Another important benefit of the system is that it will encourage students to work together, particularly in departments such as Economics in which grading policies discourage students from helping others in order to remain competitive. Working with others is an important and necessary skill that should be developed, not discouraged.

Grade inflation has also led to increased reliance on standardized exams to judge student performance. These exams do not accurately reflect student achievement, particularly for women and minorities, and the new policy will help ensure that all students’ abilities are judged fairly. Unfortunately, median grades will not be added retroactively to current students’ transcripts, even though such a move would allow the entire student body to benefit from the change.

This policy address grade inflation without imposing an artificial grade distribution and will both improve students’ academic experience and provide a better picture of their academic performance.

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