In stark contrast to the University of Alabama, which refuses to acknowledge grade inflation or permit examination of its graing practices, Princeton University’s faculty approved a plan yesterday to combat rising grades by limiting the number of A’s it awards to undergraduates. The faculty voted, 156 to 84, to implement the plan.
Princeton is the first college or university to formally buck a nationwide trend of grade inflation by rationing A’sn. Under the guidelines, which go into effect in the fall for Princeton’s 4,600 undergraduates, faculty are expected to restrict the number of A’s to 35 percent in undergraduate courses; for junior and senior independent work, the percentage receiving A’s will be capped at 55 percent.
A’s have been awarded 46 percent of the time in recent years at Princeton, up from 31 percent in the mid-1970s. Since 1998, the New Jersey school has encouraged its faculty to crack down, but grades continued to rise.
Finally, Princeton administrators decided that the only solution was to ration top grades. At other Ivy League schools, the percentages of A grades in undergraduate courses range from 44 percent to 55 percent, according to Princeton’s website.
Meanwhile, the University of Alabama and its President, Robert Witt, continue to deny access to grade inflation data since the Alabama Scholars Asssociation published its report almost two years ago (see story at bottom of this page).
Presumably, disclosing the data or doing something about it would, in the administration’s view, compromise their hell-bent effort to increase the size of the student body at any cost.