The graph above, taken from the blog In The Dark, shows what percentage of students got a grade of A on their A levels. I believe "A-levels" are exams taken by students who want to go to UK Universities. From the Wikipedia:
A levels are usually studied over a two year period and are widely recognised around the world, as well as being the standard entry qualification for assessing the suitability of applicants for academic courses in UK universities.The author of the blog, Peter Coles, has an interesting write up that everyone should really go and read it. I will just post one snip-it:
Nowadays, on average, about 26 per cent of students taking an A-level get a grade A. When I took mine (in 1981, if you must ask) the fraction getting an A was about 9%. It’s scary to think that I belong to a generation that must be so much less intelligent than the current one. Or could it be – dare I say it? – that A-level examinations might be getting easier?
Looking at the graph makes it clear that something happened around the mid-1980s that initiated an almost linear growth in the percentage of A-grades. I don’t know what will happen when the results come out next week, but it’s a reasonably safe bet that the trend will continue.I am sure similar grade inflation is happening in the US. Furthermore, being the younger generation that has benefited from such grade inflation, I can assure Peter our generation is not overwhelmingly more intelligent.
If I was the "grade-czar", I would assign grades based off of standard deviations: A-type grades for +1sigma students, B-type for mean-+1sigma, C-type for -1sigma-mean, D-type for less than -1sigma and F for someone who just wouldn't try or gave up completely. I would also not accept D credit counting toward graduation.
This way, an A student means the same from one generation to the next: one who repeatedly preforms at a level one standard deviation above his peers.