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Grade inflation naturally results from universities and individual professors attempting to attract students. Because it pressures educators to demand less of students, grade inflation undermines the quality and usefulness of education.

What if students were incentivized to take courses that gave a wider range (i.e., higher variance) in grades? By reporting the average variance of grades in courses taken by each student and how their GPA compares to the average grade point of their classmates, universities could distinguish students who excel, thereby promoting effort and challenging courses.

This simple statistical procedure requires little extra work from professors and administrators, and it offers employers and graduate schools much more information about students. To learn more about the incentives and dynamics behind this idea, email us at

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