Where A Is Ordinary: The Evolution of American College and University Grading, 1940-2009
by Stuart Rojstaczer & Christopher Healy
College grades can influence a student’s graduation prospects, academic motivation, postgraduate job choice, professional and graduate school selection, and access to loans and scholarships. Despite the importance of grades, national trends in grading practices have not been examined in over a decade, and there has been a limited effort to examine the historical evolution of college grading. This article looks at the evolution of grading over time and space at American colleges and universities over the last 70 years. The data provide a means to examine how instructors’ assessments of excellence, mediocrity, and failure have changed in higher education.