Inflated selectivity

Beware College Rankings warn Frederick M. Hess and Thomas Gift on National Review Online. Many more colleges are now ranked as “most competitive”: Barron’s lists 82 schools compared to 54 ten years ago.  There are more “highly competitive” schools too.

Grade inflation, and students’ applying to more schools than they used to, have juiced the numbers to make students look more qualified and schools more selective.

. . . A 2004 College Board study reported that the fraction of SAT takers claiming an A average had risen from 13 percent to 18 percent over the past decade, a time during which SAT scores declined slightly. The mean GPA of high-school graduates increased from 2.68 in 1990 to 2.98 in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Education; meanwhile, twelfth-grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress declined between 1992 and 2007.

All the children are above average in Lake Wobegon; elsewhere in the U.S., they’re way above average.

About Joanne


  1. Not only is grade inflation real–it leads to two other consequences. first is an attack on any kind of standard test. I abhor the tired old “My child doesn’t test well”. I can’t tell you how many parents tell me, my kid has a 94 average and only got a 1000 on her SAT–something is wrong with the test. No, your child tested right where she should have. The 94 started out as an 85–then she got 5 points for the “bonus” questions (who did the Yankees play last night was one of the questions on my daughter’s Math test). Then she did 3 extra credit projects. Then she got extra points for class participation.

    Strip out the extras–and the kid with the 1000 on her SAT possesses, in reality, an average comprehension of the material.

    Of course, parents don’t see it that way and attack, attack attack.

    The second is my own subjective observation–and I concede I could be wrong. But my experience is that more girls are willing to jump through the extra credit hoops than boys–leading to greater disparity in GPA and more girls in colleges.