Return to site



· Volume II Issue I


Every year, thousands of college graduates were produced by different academic institutions globally. Different instructors, degree programs, grading systems somehow vary in every academe. Even the percentage of graduates seemingly strike a significant increase every year and more graduates were receiving academic honors and with higher grades compared to their predecessors. Is it a result of grade inflation? Or just students nowadays were more intelligent than the previous generations?

In the article Boston Globe in 2001 reported that 91 percent of Harvard University students were awarded honors in the spring graduation. Similarly, 80 percent of grades given to students at the University of Illinois were classified to A’s and B’s. About 50% of students at the Columbia University are on the dean’s list. In Stanford University, where F grades used to be banned, only 6 % of student grades were as low as C. Consequently, in the article Wall Street Journal (1997), reported that college students are generally dumber than their predecessors. Based on the American Council of Education, only 15% of the universities require tests for general knowledge, 17% on critical thinking, and 19% for minimum competency. Moreover, employers reported that many college graduates lack the fundamental skills necessary for employment like critical thinking, writing and problem solving, and make employers to hire English and Mathematics teachers to teach them how to write memos and perform simple computations. This results to academic dishonesty where college and university confers degree to student who has not mastered competencies and setting low the performance standards where idiots could earn A’s and B’s. (Williams, 2009)

The term “grade inflation” refers to an increase in grade point average (GPA) without a concomitant increase in achievement (Potter, 2001). This implies that a student gets higher marks for a performance that does not merit such marks. This issue is increasingly becoming a threat to the differentiating quality of graduates of an institution. Grade inflation can lead to a compression of grades toward the top of the scale and some researchers have indicated that grade inflation is a symptom of a damaged grading system. In the absence of grade inflation, an outstanding student may be given an A+ grade while a good student may receive a B+ grade. However, if the grades are inflated by the instructor, then both students may receive similar grade, making it impractical to differentiate their abilities. Based on the study of Wongsurawat (2009), truly intelligent students may be graded equivalent to one who is not. This problem may negatively influence the credibility of an educational institution. In addition, grades are considered as a standard for making a judgment, while employing graduates or admitting them for higher education. Therefore, a graduate may be employed in a position that he or she may not truly deserve. According to Cohen (1984), grade inflation can occur when the current students receive higher grades for the same or poorer quality of work done by the students in the previous years. In addition, grade inflation can also take place when academically challenged students receive considerably higher grades than good or excellent students in the earlier period as a result of “watering” down the content or the test measure.

Grade inflation is defined also in the Collins Dictionary as “the awarding of higher grades to students either to maintain a school’s academic reputation or as a result of declined teacher expectations”. This only supports the study of Kohn (2002), that grade inflation is the upward shift in grades without a similar rise in achievement. It implies a decline in standards and obscures the role of grades as a signal of academic ability.

Most educators today agree that escalation of grade point average is not due to increased learning or an increase in student’s knowledge and skills. If grades are a form of academic banknotes, then grade inflation results in the markdown of that currency. Grade inflation destroys confidence the whole system of academic evaluation, devaluing all grades and even the degrees to which they lead. (Chowdhury, 2017).

Based on the foregoing assumptions, grade inflation nowadays posits undesirable effect not only in the educational institutions but also in industries where expertise and knowledge of graduates are required of. In the article of Cielito Habito in the, that the issue of grade inflation has been discussed over the years in the University of the Philippines (UP) where in 2011, UP Diliman revised its General Education program because it is blamed the ease of getting a top grade of 1.0. But then, UP Diliman produced last 2016 with 30 summa cum laude, 325 magna cum laude and 936 cum laude, some trace this seeming explosion of honor graduates to “grade inflation”.

This paper implies that grade inflation is remarkably a global phenomenon in every educational institution that indicate a steady rise in high grades being assigned to students in schools, colleges and universities. This is a trend that out of control that already happened for the last thirty years. If this will spontaneously continue for several years and decade, academic degrees conferred by the colleges and universities will be just equivalent to a high school diploma because those who are excellent or top graduates have same or similarly grades with those who are not performing well, higher grades are being given to students due to enrollment competitions among different colleges and universities and also because of faculty evaluation. If grade inflation prospers it will create a long-term negative consequences among schools and the students also. Practicing grade inflation may affect schools’ reputation, it will give an employer the chance to select non-high-ability graduates, some schools practiced the notion of student consumerism, and worst college transcripts would become less meaningful due to number of graduates with same average grades that creates grade compression among them. Grades are not only the indicative measure that the student is good in the class and in job it desires in the future but also more relatively the skills and competencies acquired and desired work attitude, values and etiquette.

The thesis statement for this paper is that, “Grade inflation is a global educational issue among colleges and universities that contributes negative effect to student’s life and future.


In the article of Enrico Uva (2014), he presented some of causes of grade inflation were: 1) Millions of parents have the monotonous expectation that their children will become university graduates. Marks have become tickets to that sometimes unrealistic goal. 2) Schools are in competition with each other and use marks to market themselves. Depending on the quality of the school, this leads to varying degrees of indirect or not-so-subtle pressure into churning out high grades. 3) Education departments create marking policies that lead to unintended consequences. 4) Too often the so-called “hard-markers” are stereotyped as being uncaring to the impact that low grades can have on young, susceptible minds and how this could prevent students from having a fighting chance. 5) Insecurity on part of teachers who are either not secured or teaching in areas outside of their specialization makes them more likely to raise marks either intentionally or unconsciously. It takes experience to create and balance challenging tasks with easier ones. 6) Government sometimes implement poorly tested programs that place students at a disadvantage. In response, some educators, with good intentions, expiate for poor organizational design that is beyond their control and consequently mark too leniently. 7) It’s easy to get away with inflating grades. Most people will not complain about something that apparently favors them, even if it may be unfair to others.

In the study conducted by Lackey and Lackey (2006), the following are the possible causes in no particular order. 1) Better students, higher SAT and ACT scores, 2) Worse students, lower SAT scores, a larger percentage of population attending university. This is offered as evidence that students are not better, so grade inflation is occurring, 3) Professors influenced by desire of good course evaluations by students, 4) Salary, promotion, and tenure influenced by course evaluation by students, 5) Fewer credit hours taken, 6) Fewer credit hours outside major, 7) Students able to withdraw before receiving a poor grade, 8) Students allowed to remove a low grade when a course is repeated for a higher grade, 9) Better teaching, 10) Professors grade easier to boost retention, student morale, to permit retention of scholarships, 11) University funding tied to ‘through-put rate’, 12) More student begging, 13) More cheating, 14) Use of computers, 15) Easier grading and/or students were given higher grade for same quality work, 16) More student remedial courses, 17) Increased number of adjunct professors, 18) Less rigorous course content.

In the study of Chowdhury (2018), identified some specific causes for grade inflation. 1) desire for job security and financial benefits may encourage some instructors to practice grade inflation, 2) Teachers give high grades to prevent them justifying low grades on assignment or examinations, 3) Non-tenured faculty members rely on positive course evaluations to them by their students to ensure continued employment, which motivates them to inflate grades, 4) Grade inflation may perceived by some teachers as personal expression of care toward their students, 5) Greater competition for student enrollment between and within institutions is a prime factor for grade inflation, 6) Most academic institutions believe in the customer-based concept that “we are here to serve and please customers”, 7) Most academic institutions support to the myth that high grades and success are firmly associated, particularly in terms of future success, 8) maintain a positive public image, 9) set lower passing scores so that larger number of students will pass the exams rather than fail.


Based on the study of Boleslavsky and Cotton (2014), allowing grade inflation increases investment in education (by both schools and students), increasing average graduate ability. But at the same time, it introduces noise into transcripts, making it more difficult for employers or other evaluators to identify the most qualified graduates for their positions. Allowing grade inflation may actually increase the chance that the employer selects a non-high-ability graduate. That suggests that even if a policy or program intervention could end grade inflation, doing such is not necessarily the most socially desirable course of action. Therefore, the central concerns over grade inflation may not be logical once incentives for academic institutions to invest in the quality of education are taken into account. Although the freedom to grade strategically allows schools to distort the informational content of grades (which they do in equilibrium), it also creates additional incentives for schools to improve the quality of education and students to increase effort. Compared to a setting in which grades are necessarily fully informative, the increase in education investments can lead to employers, graduate schools, and other evaluators being better off.

In the article of Layman (2019), employers have known about grade inflation for years, which is why their most common complaint is that college transcripts have become less and less meaningful. After all, virtually all new college graduates sport nothing but A’s and B’s on their transcripts. For the same reason, grade inflation also hinders the ability of graduate school admissions boards to differentiate meaningfully among student transcripts. However, as damaging as grade inflation is to labor force development, it strikes a more lethal blow to the souls of our students. Grade inflation, at bottom, is genuinely a moral issue. It involves the deception of not only would-be employers but, more importantly, students themselves. But grade inflation teaches young people the opposite lesson. It teaches them that life is easy. This cannot help but to contribute to the coddled “snowflake” mindset for which so many millennials are today blamed by their elders. Employers, as well as graduate admission committees would welcome the better knowledge that comes with grade contextualization. Students would get a truer sense of what their abilities are and where they truly stand. Transcripts would again be the indicators of accomplishment they were intended to be.

In the study of Chowdhury (2018), most of the academic institutions that doing grade inflation assume in the idea of student consumerism, which states that students want their money’s worth and thus want to earn easy “A” grades. Moreover, there is an innate obligation instilled in academic institutions to inflate grades to help their poorer-performing students to acquire better opportunities in the job market. However, it is important for these institutions to understand that, in the long run, the institution’s reputation and student proficiencies are more important than individual grades. Nevertheless, some people believe that grade inflation is unavoidable as it is ‘costless’ to award good grades to the students. Schools are the primary institutions for credentialing students. In an impartial society, academic institutions would be structured in a manner that prevents inequality in grading practices, which is opposite of what is currently happening. It is important for academic institutions to begin the dialogue on grade inflation by first acknowledging it as a serious problem that can have a variety of negative long-term consequences such as 1) it may mislead students regarding their actual degree of academic performance, 2) it will results in grade compression, 3) may deteriorate the work ethic of students, 4) it may encourage students to select subjects, majors or teachers where they can easily obtain higher grades.


The thesis statement for this paper is that, “Grade inflation is a global educational issue among colleges and universities that contributes negative effect to student’s life and future.

Based on the different literature on grade inflation, the following are the underlying causes why grade inflation is happening, this is to ensure the job security, salary and promotion among professors and instructors where course evaluation of students highly influenced it. Inflating grades leads to greater competition for student enrollment between and within academic institutions. Giving high grades linked to boost retention of scholarships, student morale and future success. Implement or setting low passing scores in examinations may lead students to pass easily rather than to fail. It is also inferred that whatever the reason it is why these schools, colleges and universities practicing this kind of thing is not ethical because we are just making an implications to our students that they are very good in the class where in fact they are not excelling well. We should be just and fair in giving grades to our students according to their level of performance and not because of some other reasons.

The following findings will lead somehow to the implications of grade inflation to national development, grade inflation would lead to less meaningful transcripts allowing those incompetent graduates to enter the job market enhances social disparity and socioeconomic inequality as well as making it more difficult for employers or evaluators to identify the most qualified graduates for the position. Allowing grade inflation leads to increase in the enrollment and investments in the school however, negative impact will happened that these schools, colleges and universities practicing grade inflation may be classified as “grade sellers” and at some point, their graduates may become less marketable. It is also inferred that these schools, colleges and universities practicing this grade inflation will be marked as “grade sellers”, “diploma mills” and the like because they are not looking on the competence and performance of the students but also on the number of students who enrolled in their courses and achieving this kind of quota system every semester or school year. We cannot guarantee that an individual who spent his/her college education in the private school would entail a good and quality education at all. Successful individuals are not those who are having high grades but for those who experienced a lot of things in the class. In the article published by ABS CBN News last April, 2020 who took an interview with Shamcey Supsup, Miss Universe Philippines 2011 and a magna cum laude of UP Diliman stated that, “I am more than certain that grades are not everything”, she continued. “Grades should be a by-product of learning. And what you do with that knowledge is much more important than what is on your report card”.

Different academic problems arises and grade inflation is used as a solution to solve this certain problems. This somehow speaks about the current issue happening in the schools, colleges and universities in and out of the Philippines. To maintain a good public image, grade inflation happens. To increase the enrollment of such course in the college, practicing grade inflation also happens. Many institutions, instructor’s success rate is judged only by the student evaluation scores and succumb to the lure of grade inflation and the like. This problem will only be addressed exclusively within the schools, colleges and universities if the administrators, faculty members and students will have good educational practices and constructive dialogue as to different academic or school policies on enrollment, admissions, faculty evaluation and also grading systems and standards.