Grade Inflation Becomes an Educational Fact of College Life

Buell says he supported a recent proposal in the Educational Policy Committee to include more information about classes on transcripts--including course's size and mean grade--as a way of signalling publicly that we're prepared to acknowledge just what our grades do mean."

Dartmouth and Columbia have passed similar proposals, according to Wolcowitz. Dartmouth will graduate its first class with the revised transcript next year.

Wolcowitz says he is not in favor of implementing a transcript makeover until he sees the outcome of the changes at Dartmouth and Columbia.

"We would be wise at this point to watch and see because the answer is close at hand," he says.

The CUE recommended last spring to the Faculty Council that Harvard's grading system become "linearized," closing the gap between an A- and a B+. Currently, an A- is worth 14 points, and a B+ is worth 12 points on the 15-point grading point average scale. But the council never passed such a proposal.


This proposal was also debated in 1976 by the CUE, but saw no action.

Pilbeam says he would like to see more "ways to put distance between grades."

"You could, say, do away with plusses and minuses," says Pilbeam. Brown University already has such a system.