He got a B-minus. Which wasn’t so bad! He was only out-performed by 15% of his class: 5 B-pluses, 2 A-minuses, and exactly zero As. In contrast, a whopping 33% got a C or worse.
It turns out, JFK was already benefitting from grade inflation — the slow shift in the average grade point average in higher education — even in 1940. The chart below, borrowed from gradeinflation.com, shows that the average grade had gone up by 0.1 on a 4.0 scale between 1935 and Kennedy’s not-so-fateful grade report. Since then, however, has gone up another 0.7 points.
I’m well-known ’round campus for being a hard grader, but I’m no Professor Emerson.Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.