Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 7, 2023

NY Times: Nearly Everyone Gets A’s at Yale. Does That Cheapen the Grade?

New York Times, Nearly Everyone Gets A’s at Yale. Does That Cheapen the Grade?:

Nearly 80 percent of all grades given to undergraduates at Yale last academic year were A’s or A minuses, part of a sharp increase that began during the coronavirus pandemic and appears to have stuck, according to a new report.

The mean grade point average was 3.7 out of 4.0, also an increase over pre-pandemic years.

Yale 1 Chart

The findings have frustrated some students, alumni and professors. What does excellence mean at Yale, they wonder, if most students get the equivalent of “excellent” in almost every class?

“When we act as though virtually everything that gets turned in is some kind of A — where A is supposedly meaning ‘excellent work’ — we are simply being dishonest to our students,” said Shelly Kagan, a Yale philosophy professor known for being a tough grader. ...

To many Yale students, the report was unsurprising.

Some noted the divide between science and math classes and those in the humanities. Less than 65 percent of grades in economics, mathematics and chemistry, for instance, were A’s or A minuses, compared to more than 80 percent of grades in English, African American studies and the humanities.

Yale 2 Chart

Yale Daily News, Faculty Report Reveals Average Yale College GPA, Grade Distributions by Subject

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