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Editorial: More steps should be taken to avoid grade inflation

A-plus or bust.

C’s are a thing of the past, but is that because more and more students are studying — or are teachers just giving good grades away?

It’s hard to tell, especially when the fight for a 4.0 has caused the average student to be seen as a failure.

Grade inflation is a subject of debate at universities and high schools nationwide. It seems that educators are constantly questioning what grade they should award their students in a nation where every student is “special” and “gifted.”

After years of GPA increases, universities are finally stepping in and taking matters seriously, combating the issue with what some call GPA deflation. The University of Florida has taken a step toward controlling inflation by introducing minuses to its grading scale. USF has employed this system since fall 2000.

This may not please some students, but what they fail to see is that GPA inflation not only affects them as hardworking students, it affects the value of their degrees.

After years of students receiving high grades across the board, many employers who request to see an applicant’s GPA are no longer impressed with a 3.5.

Graduate schools are no longer impressed either, not that graduate schools should have open-door policy. But the next time a student with a 3.0 or higher GPA is denied from graduate school because of lacking qualifications, that student will likely wonder what happened to the value of his or her grades.

There are degrees of achievement, like standing in front of the class and reading straight from a textbook to deliver a presentation versus spending hours creating a PowerPoint slideshow using a variety of sources and researching beyond the bare minimum. Sure, maybe both achieve a project’s basic requirements, but one goes above and beyond — and students’ grades should reflect that difference.

If a university decides to reward high-achieving students with a plus grade — denoting that the student’s work was in the upper echelon of the grade’s range — it should also allow a negative. Sure, the minus may look like an unattractive pockmark marring a student’s transcript, but it’s the only way to be fair. Without that balance, it simply looks like the institution is trying to boost its students’ GPAs to look good for academic associations or college ranking reports.

Besides, many students whose grades happen to fall in the middle of the spectrum will agree that there’s a difference between accurately completing 95 percent of the work and squeaking by with 89.5 percent.

Grade inflation transcends plus and minus grades, though. Students will always pursue that easy-A course. It’s up to educators to prevent that, but the plus/minus grading system is a step in the right direction.