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Faculty report reveals average Yale College GPA, grade distributions by subject

Yale Daily News: “Yale College’s mean GPA was 3.70 for the 2022-23 academic year, and 78.97 percent of grades given to students were A’s or A-’s. The data, which show a sharp hike in grades coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, come from a document presented at a November faculty meeting. According to economics professor Ray Fair, who authored the report, Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis distributed the document to faculty members who attended the meeting.  Even before the pandemic, the percentage of A-range grades was climbing — it reached 72.95 percent in the 2018-19 academic year, up from 68.97 percent five years prior. But in 2020-21, that share jumped to 81.97 percent. Fair dubbed the grading upturn “the COVID effect.” “Some thought [the COVID effect] would be temporary, but it has more or less persisted. [It’s] probably the faculty going easier on students because COVID was a pain,” Fair told the News. “The report simply documents the history of grading at Yale … It gives the ‘current state of grading’ and I think the numbers are straightforward to interpret.”

See also The New York Times: “…The sharp post-pandemic spike in grades is not unique to Yale. At Harvard, 79 percent of all grades given to undergraduates in the 2020-21 year were also A’s or A minuses. A decade earlier, that figure was 60 percent. In 2020-21, the average G.P.A. was 3.8, compared to 3.41 in 2002-3. “Grades are like any currency,” said Stuart Rojstaczer, a retired Duke University professor who tracks grade inflation: They tend to increase over time. It’s not just elite schools. G.P.A.s have been increasing at colleges nationwide by about 0.1 per decade since the early 1980s, he said. Private colleges tend to have higher average G.P.A.s than public schools, Dr. Rojstaczer said. In 2013, the average public school G.P.A. was about 3.1, compared to 3.3 to 3.4 at private schools. Yale’s and Harvard’s averages are even higher. “They are actively championing their students by giving them higher grades than the national average,” he said, of elite schools. “They want their students to have a competitive edge.”

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