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Grade inflation is rampant across universities, colleges, academic majors, and certainly in American business schools. Extensive evidence shows that the distribution of college GPAs is skewed sharply toward high grades. Consequently, GPAs often poorly convey students’ relative academic achievement, sending a muddled message to prospective employers. This article explores the causes and consequences of grade inflation. It concludes with six recommendationsfor employers who want to encourage college administrators to control collegiate grade inflation, thereby strengthening the accuracy and value of a GPA in the processes of applicant evaluation and job placement. # 2016 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Many forces converge to produce grade inflation, with some representing the triumph of good intentions over candor. However, the accumulated effects of grading leniency undermine the market value of professors’ endorsements and, by extension, detract from the credibility of the institution. The value of a college GPA is based on the belief that an accurate assessment of the relative level of knowledge and ability attained by college students is indicated by their grades. Unfortunately, there is a growing body of evidence that executives and recruiters question the endorsement value of a collegiate GPA (Rojstaczer & Healy, 2012, p. 18): ‘‘Evaluation has become so flawed that employers, graduate schools, and professional schools that try to use grades to identify outstanding prospects are likely often engaging in a futile exercise.’’