My friend George Leef of North Carolina’s James Martin Center recently alerted me to a fine new National Bureau of Economic Research study showing that data suggesting there has been improved academic performance by American college students is illusionary: schools are simply lowering their standards. A primary culprit? Grade inflation.
For several decades in the 20th century, college completion rates were embarrassingly low and sometimes falling—many students entering college failed to graduate. Over the last generation or so, however, that has reversed: college completion rates are rising again. In “Why Have College Completion Rates Increased? An Analysis of Rising Grades,” a quintet of scholars now associated with Brigham Young, Purdue and Stanford Universities as well as the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), exhaustively (71 page paper) examine the issue.
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