“Whether it was concern for the effects of grades on student self-esteem (e.g. Bauchman and O’Malley 1977; Marsh 1990), intra-departmental concerns about attracting students though the implicit promise of good grades (Becker 1997; Freeman 2010), or concerns, particularly strong at elite schools, about the effect of grades on graduates’ job prospects (e.g. Dickson 1984), the trend of grade inflation continued. As of 1975, it was reported that one-half to two-thirds of the marks given in US colleges and universities were As and Bs (Davidson 1975; 122-125). A similar trend was found in high schools (Ferguson and Maxey 1975).”
-from “Making the Grade: A History of the A-F Marking Scheme” by Schneider and Hunt (Fall 2013)
This remarkable essay is available here as a PDF.