Are students getting smarter or is college just getting easier–even at Ivy League heavyweight Harvard?
That’s the question on the minds of Harvard professors today after the school announced that the most frequently awarded grade is an A.
Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris told the Harvard Crimson this week A is the most frequent grade and A- is the median grade. Harvard released the grades in response to a question by professor Harvey C. Mansfield, who has long disparaged “grade inflation.” The professor was quoted in the Crimson as saying the high grades are “indefensible” and represent “a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards.”
Harvard confirmed the report to ABC News today and said in a statement that the university is more focused on learning than grades.
“We believe that learning is the most important thing that happens in our classrooms and throughout our system of residential education,” the school said in a statement from spokesman Jeff Neal. “The faculty are focused on creating positive and lasting learning outcomes for our undergraduates. We watch and review trends in grading across Harvard College, but we are most interested in helping our students learn and learn well.”
Mansfield told ABC News in 2001 that giving easy A’s amounted to “flattery of students to tell them they are better than they are.”
Around that time, Harvard moved to cap the percentage of students who graduated with honors to 60 percent from over 90 percent.