Email, response to PolitiFact Texas, Christopher Healy, associate professor of computer science, Furman University, Jan. 22, 2013

608 pm

Jan. 22, 2013

You can

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

following colleges:

1959 Penn State

1959 Pomona

1960 Auburn

1960 UC Berkeley

1960 Cal Poly

1960 Caltech

1960 Clemson

1960 Furman

1960 Knox

1960 Minnesota

1960 UNC Chapel Hill

1960 (Southwest) Texas State

1960 Wisconsin

1961 Dartmouth

1961 Messiah

1961 Rice

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:

best regards,