If something is important to me, I would work like a dog to achieve it if I had to.  However, if I could achieve this important outcome without hard work, why would I work hard for it, even though I would accomplish much more by working hard for it?  That’s just simple human nature, and it encapsulates the major harm to our educational system done by grade inflation.

Students want high grades for many different reasons (e.g., admission to post-secondary professional schools, jobs, a sense of accomplishment).  When high grades are difficult to achieve, students will work exceptionally hard in their effort to achieve them.  However, why would students bust their butts studying in a class where everybody gets A’s regardless of their effort?  The answer is they won’t, and it turns out, that’s what’s happening.  

The most pernicious effect of grade inflation on education is to cause a substantial diminution of student effort in their coursework.  Students now get better grades for much less effort.  The corollary of this is that students are learning much less now from the same course material than when average grades were much lower.  And there’s data to prove this!!