A recent study found that an A is the most common grade at four-year colleges. A’s are awarded 42% of the time compared to 10% of the time in 1963 when the most common grade was a C . The awarding of A’s has been increasing 5-6% per decade. Originally, grade inflation was driven by professors not wanting to give students poor grades during the Vietnam War era due to disqualifying students from their draft deferments.
Since the Vietnam War era grade inflation has been largely attributed to the rise of student as consumer: as tuition costs have risen colleges compete for students and keep them happy by awarding better grades. A so-called “GPA arms race.” Standardized tests suggest that students aren’t learning more – rather grades have just been getting higher.
The problem with this is that it becomes harder to distinguish excellent students from merely good students or even mediocre students. Here are some interesting charts from the study:
Source and more reading: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/03/29/survey-finds-grade-inflation-continues-rise-four-year-colleges-not-community-college