Is the Sky Falling? Grade Inflation and the Signaling Power of Grades

From Section:
Assessment & Evaluation
Jun. 01, 2013

Source: Educational Researcher, 42(2), June/July 2013, p. 259-265.

This article argues that grades signal academic achievement and noncognitive skills to parents, employers, postsecondary gatekeepers, and students themselves.
Grade inflation compromises the signaling value of grades and undermines their capacity to achieve the functions for which they are intended.
Therefore, the authors argue that grade inflation must be understood in terms of the signaling power of grades.

Analyzing data from four nationally representative samples, they find that in the decades following 1972:
(a) grades have risen at high schools and dropped at 4-year colleges, in general, and selective 4-year institutions, in particular; and
(b) the signaling power of grades has attenuated little, if at all.

Updated: Dec. 16, 2019
Academic achievement | Colleges and universities | Grades | Grading | High schools