The percentage of A’s given in OU colleges has increased
over the past 10 years, and A’s were the most common grade given in all but one college during the fall 2011 semester.
July 2011, a team of researchers looked at the percentages of A’s on a national level and found the top grade accounted
for 43 percent of all letter grades in 2008, an increase of 28 percent since 1960, according to research published in the Teachers College Record.
The rise in A’s corresponds with a decrease in C’s, D’s and F’s, according to the research.
The Daily received records of the percentages of A’s in each college over the past 10 years, which takes into account the grades of any students receiving grades in classes offered in those colleges, not necessarily just majors. It also excludes people who did not receive a letter grade in classes.
OU colleges match this national trend, showing a 2 percent average increase in the percentages of A’s in the past 10 years, according to the records. In fall 2002, colleges gave 51.22 percent A’s, opposed to 53.87 percent in fall 2011.
Academic provost Nancy Mergler said the percentage of grades in each college is not an accurate representation of the average abilities of students because it does not take into consideration the weight of each grade.
However, the average GPA has increased from 3.06 in fall 2004 to 3.10 in fall 2010, Mergler said. She does not see this as grade inflation but rather an increase in the academic preparedness of students entering OU.
OU does not have an institutional policy on grades or grade inflation in place, Mergler said. Faculty and staff have varying viewpoints about how to gauge students, so OU does not put restrictions in place.
The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education had the highest offered A’s in courses 82.9 percent of the time, according to records. The next highest were the OU Honors College with 73.76 percent and the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts with 67.41 percent.
The College of Education does not have any policies regarding grade inflation, Communications Director Christine Frank said. The administration credits the high grades to high admission standards within the college.
“We are very concerned about only sending the best and the brightest into Oklahoma classrooms, because of this, our students have to reach high standards to pursue a career in teaching,” said Dr. Teresa DeBacker.
At the lowest end of the scale is the Price College of Business, which gave 31.03 percent A’s in fall 2011 and was the only college to give more B’s that semester, which totaled 43.10 percent.
Even with the lowest percentage of A’s, the college has seen an increase in higher-level grades, according to reports; in fall 2002, As made up 23.74 percent and B’s were 41.90 percent.
The college does not have a policy about grades, but administrators do take grade distributions into consideration when evaluating professors.
“When the faculty are evaluated in the college, vigor, including grading vigor, is among the things looked at when deciding if a faculty member is doing his or her job,” Associate Dean Nim Razook said.
The college also has a culture in which it emphasizes vigor in its courses and training students, Razook said.
However, Razook said he emphasized that this mindset and culture is not only within the business college, but also in
others across campus.
“It’s just a matter of culture, I guess,” Razook said. “In some way I am glad that we’re relatively less lenient in passing out A’s, but I don’t think it’s because of any reason other than culture.”