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.