You can always tell a Harvard man; he’s the one with a series of scarlet A’s on his report card. This week, Harvard’s Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris admitted to the university newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, that the most common grade for Harvard students is an A. What’s the median grade?
Would you believe A-minus?
The reason Harvard is coming clean about its grade inflation is that they were prodded by professor Harvey C. Mansfield, who said in the Crimson that the inflated grades at the university are “indefensible … a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards.”
ABC News received confirmation that the story is true from the university, whose spokesman, Jeff Neal, defended the practice by stating, “We believe that learning is the most important thing that happens in our classrooms and throughout our system of residential education. The faculty are focused on creating positive and lasting learning outcomes for our undergraduates. We watch and review trends in grading across Harvard College, but we are most interested in helping our students learn and learn well.”
Mansfield has been disgusted with the practice for years; in 2001, he told ABC News that easy A’s were simply “flattery of students to tell them they are better than they are.” In a unique coincidence, around the time Mansfield launched his initial protest, the university put a ceiling on what constituted an honors student, reducing the number of honors students from 90% to 60%.