Grade Inflation

Academic Standards in Higher Education

Edited by Lester H. Hunt

Subjects: Educational Psychology, Education Policy And Leadership, Educational Administration, Philosophy Of Education, Higher Education
Paperback : 9780791474983, 250 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791474976, 250 pages, July 2008

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Table of contents

John D. Wiley
1. The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation
Alfie Kohn
2. Undergraduate Grades: A More Complex Story Than “Inflation”
Clifford Adelman
3. Understanding Grade Inflation
Richard Kamber
4. Grade Inflation and Grade Variation:What’s All the Fuss About?
Harry Brighouse
5 From Here to Equality: Grading Policies for Egalitarians
Francis K. Schrag
6. Grade “Inflation” and the Professionalism of the Professoriate
Mary Biggs
7. Fissures in the Foundation:Why Grade Conflation Could Happen
Mary Biggs
8. Grading Teachers: Academic Standards and Student Evaluations
Lester H. Hunt
9. Combating Grade Inflation: Obstacles and Opportunities
Richard Kamber
10. Grade Distortion, Bureaucracy, and Obfuscation at the University of Alabama
David T. Beito and Charles W. Nuckolls
Afterword: Focusing on the Big Picture
Lester H. Hunt
List of Contributors

An authoritative and provocative discussion of the key issues surrounding grade inflation and its possible effects on academic excellence.


This book provides a provocative look at the issues and controversies surrounding grade inflation, and, more generally, grading practices in American higher education. The contributors confront the issues from a number of different disciplines and varying points of view. Topics explored include empirical evidence for and against the claim that there is a general upward trend in grading, whether grade inflation (if it exists) is a problem, which ethical considerations are relevant to grading, and whether heavy reliance on anonymous student evaluations of teaching excellence has a distorting effect on grading practices. Finally, the contributors offer contrasting perspectives on the prospects for reform.

Lester H. Hunt is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author of Character and Culture and Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue.


"As state and federal agencies begin to talk about accountability for universities, the topic of grade inflation could become even more politicized. This timely book addresses a topic of significant public interest and does it well. The fact that the contributors disagree, take different approaches, and address different aspects of grade inflation is a virtue. " — Kenneth A. Strike, author of Ethical Leadership in Schools: Creating Community in an Environment of Accountability

"This book encourages academic communities to engage in constructive debate over their professional responsibilities as evaluators of student academic work. Its greatest strength is that it presents disparate perspectives on the complex topics of grading and grade inflation. The contributors are in a real sense engaged in a discussion on the subject, which makes the book refreshing and intellectually stimulating. " — Matthew Hartley, University of Pennsylvania