Email, response to PolitiFact Texas, Christopher Healy, associate professor of computer science, Furman University, Jan. 22, 2013
Jan. 22, 2013
find the data that we used for our study on this Web address:
However, please note that a very small amount of data has been
redacted due to some individual colleges asking us to keep them
anonymous. In addition, some of our data includes grade distributions
of colleges collected by earlier researchers, and in several cases
the names of the schools were not disclosed. Nevertheless, for
most data, we can identify the school.
The data for "1960" that we used in the paper may have included
the years 1959 and 1961. In other words, 1960 plus or minus a year.
For example, for a given college we may have data for 1959 but not 1960.
Scanning through my list, I can see that we have circa 1960 data from the
1959 Penn State
1960 UC Berkeley
1960 Cal Poly
1960 UNC Chapel Hill
1960 (Southwest) Texas State
I have been continually adding to my database, so it is possible that some
of this data was not in the paper we wrote. I'm afraid I don't know exactly
which "14" schools we may have used for the chart we showed in the paper,
but as you can see we currently have a somewhat larger sample today,
and the point is that the average grade distribution for a circa 1960 college
is very different from today's.
Your last question about the 1960 and present-day samples being comparable
is a very good one. The circa 1960 list includes both public and private institutions.
I would say that three of them are major elite private institutions (Rice, Caltech, Dartmouth),
and a few more are smaller liberal arts colleges (Pomona, Furman, Knox, Messiah),
and most of the rest are major state universities, mostly of high renown.
I would say that our present-day sample includes schools a greater proportion
of schools farther down the rankings, i.e. less selective colleges. Many regional state
colleges were established after 1960, for example. So, if anything, if there had been
no grade inflation, one would expect the sample of today's colleges to show slightly lower
grades than in our 1960 sample.
One more thing - please note that the Web page I give above also includes
data from many 2-year colleges, and our research papers solely looked at
undergraduate data from 4-year schools only.
...The full text of our 2011 article can be found here: