Grade Inflation with Academia

Performance Appraisals Being Inflated?

In recent years, there has been concern of grade inflation within academia.

In the article written by Johnathon Dresner, “Grade Inflation…Why it’s a nightmare?,” he states that “grade inflation has three primary causes: student culture, pedagogical culture and institutional culture," which is strongly influenced by accreditation and educational “tier” rankings. (2004) Mirroring these causes on the inflation of performance evaluations, I can support my case by noting that companies and organizations too, are swayed by internal organizational cultures, the American business culture, and societal culture.

For as long as I can remember, social influences, with respect to elitism, reputations, recognition, and popularity, have played an immense factor on organizations, companies, and education facilities. Due to this, society established a variety of measurable tools to judge different types of entities based on structure, ethics, profitability, and the edification of people. In an educational institution, as Dresner notes, its accreditation and standing can be dependent on student grades or student performance. For example, a friend of mine, detailed an account of her education facility’s competitor losing accreditation (from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs-CACREP) of a specific Behavioral Therapist program due to low performance scores retained through licensure exams offered by the CBBS (The California Board of Behavioral Sciences). Although,\ many of the students in the program received remarkable grade point averages, their inabilities to pass licensure exams birthed an investigative response by authoritative figures. (Personal Communication, 2009).

Grade Inflation Reflects on Inflated Performance Appraisals?

But, how does grade inflation reflect upon the case of inflated performance appraisals? An organization or company, similar to an educational facility, must meet certain requirements in order to portray itself as a model entity. Performance appraisals of employees depict the company’s character, performance and reputation, and as such, society evaluates the company. If, for example, an organization held poorly evaluated employees, they may lose profitability or pose an immoral workplace environment.

In view of this, many corporations employ performance appraisal models (e.g. forced ranking) to display the company’s makeup while improving its workforce. However, although these models hold a strong purpose and portray the efficiency of the company, throughout the rise and fall of one corporation, Enron, I’m certain that Enron employees were too considered as high quality representatives with superb evaluations. Enron was viewed as one of the most ethical and profitable business figures around the world, and years after the Enron debacle, many, including the Government, considered top and mid-level managers ethically challenged, which could question if employee appraisals were inflated to meet different societal expectations. Today, if the Enron Corporation were still standing, the public, consumers, and employees would have a different view of the corporation’s moral character and business dealings. A TIME Magazine article notes, “one of the leading practitioners of forced ranking was Enron Corporation, the Texas energy and trading giant that collapsed in late 2001 under a tidal wave of debt and scandal…It was said that rank and yank had produced in Enron ‘a hotbed of overachievers’ - bold rhetoric which now seems a little embarrassing, to say the least (North, 2001).

To conclude, similar to grade inflation and the reasoned causes, inflated performance appraisals can also exist in an organization/company.


Dresner, J. (2004). Grade Inflation…Why it’s a nightmare? Available from the George Mason University History News Network Web Site

North, A. (2001). Rank and Yank? Available from the Archer North Web Site

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Comments 2 comments

maxtomming 5 years ago

I like this form very much. I read this post 2 times. It is very useful. Pls try to keep posting. Performance appraisal is major topic for companies, HRers, Managers. It can be included categories: appraisal methods, appraisal forms, self appraisal and 360 degree appraisal etc. If you want more free ebooks about performance appraisal. You can visit:

John 4 years ago

"In an educational institution, as Dresner notes, its accreditation and standing can be dependent on student grades or student performance."

How foolish! This is the wrong metric. They need to be looking at student outcomes. What happens to students that go to a particular institution? Do they have a higher income? Do they have a higher probability of getting a job? Does a particular University have a higher probability of producing CEOs? Measure things that matter, not this subjective abstract notion of a Grade Point Average!

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