Recent data released by Stuart Rojstaczer finds that the College of William and Mary has fallen victim to grade inflation. Rojstaczer, a professor and scholar on American grading, collected data from over 230 undergraduate institutions in the United States. He found that since the 1960s, average GPA has increased by between .1 and .2 every decade. The data that he found for William and Mary indicates that between 1986 and 2005, the average GPA jumped .37 points. The College’s website indicates that between 2006 and 2010, there has been a .02 increase, from 3.22 to 3.24
According to research on over 200 American institutions of higher learning published in the Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 7, 2012, A’s comprise 43% of all letter grades and are 12% more common than in 1988. William and Mary’s percentage of A’s awarded was 44%, while 34.7% of the grades awarded were B’s.
The study states that “prestigious schools have…continued to ramp up their grades. It is likely that at many selective and highly selective schools, undergraduate GPAs are now so saturated at the high end that they have little use as a motivator of students and as an evaluation tool for graduate and professional schools and employers.”
Some argue that the grade inflation occurring at the College is not nearly as severe as other institutions, thus making it “relatively deflated.”
“I’ve never felt like I was just handed an A,” stated Hannah Branch (‘13).
Fellow student Matthew Gomez, (‘13), echoes Branch’s sentiment, stating, “I’m willing to be that the gradual increase in GPA is due most likely to more A-’s, but not more A’s.”
Senior Joy Tanitnon (‘13) has a different explanation for the increase. “One of the reasons why the GPA here is rising is because they students here are very driven,” stated Tanitnon. “William and Mary hasn’t gotten easier but the quality of the students that are admitted has risen.”
While the deflation rate of the College is a bit higher than that of many other institutions, according to Rojstaczer many schools that have a strong tradition of rigorous coursework have higher average GPAs than William and Mary (3.24), such as Harvard University (3.42), Duke University (3.44), and Brown University (3.61).
Brandon DeGraaf (‘13), argued that if William and Mary were to not inflate grades at at a rate somewhat relative to other prestigious universities, it would put students at a disadvantage. “If the College embarked on a solo mission to combat grade inflation and make C’s average again, then William and Mary students would be at a disadvantage in competing for jobs or admission to graduate schools,” stated DeGraaf. “If William and Mary started giving C’s for the sort of work other schools reward with A’s or B’s, students from the College would find that, in fact, GPAs are still an evaluation tool for graduate and professional schools and employers”