Price inflation masks the true value of goods. Suppose a bottle of Coke costs $1 and a bag of chips costs $2. The chips, therefore, cost 2 cokes. If the money prices of Coke and chips goes to $2 and $4 respectively, the cost of chips is still 2 Cokes. The money inflation did nothing to the underlying value of either good in terms of the other good. The same thing happens with grades:
Today, approximately 41 percent of America’s student population has a grade point average over 3.5. Yale has approximately 21,000 applicants annually and only 1,300 available slots. Ninety-seven percent of Stanford's new freshman class were ranked in the top 20 percent of their high schools, and 45 percent ranked in the top 1 percent or 2 percent. Harvard has an abundance of candidates with strong credentials, but it now accepts an estimated all-time-low 9 percent of them.
Grade inflation masks the true quality of a student. When everyone is made to look special, then the measuring stick quits working as such. Dash was right and it surprises me not that fewer high-credential students are getting into top colleges.
HT to King.
Update: Kip directs us to this post by Joanne Jacobs and, through that post, to this Washington Post article about "course inflation," titleing courses as "Honors" and such when the course is no such thing. An excerpt:
U.S. Education Department senior researcher Clifford Adelman, the government's leading authority on the links between high school programs and college completion, said some high school transcripts apply the label "pre-calculus" to any math course before calculus. Some students who had taken "pre-calculus," according to the transcripts he inspected, had skills so rudimentary that they were forced to take basic algebra in their first year of college.
...Most high school honors and advanced courses don't have independent benchmarks like the AP tests, so inflated course labels are more difficult to detect. Michael Goldstein, founder of the MATCH Charter Public School in Boston, described the sort of dialogue that often produces courses that don't keep their promises in other schools:
"The principal tells the teacher, 'You're teaching algebra 2.' The teacher responds, 'But our tests show these kids haven't mastered one-fourth plus one-half, let alone algebra 1.' The principal responds, 'Well, we need to offer them algebra 2 because it helps on their college transcripts.' "
The cynic in me wants to sarcastically say "I thought this sort of dishwatery claptrap was supposed to come from the for-profit educational sector." But I won't.