warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

GPA Fairness: It's Time To Redistribute Grades

Tyler Talgo |
October 8, 2012 | 5:10 p.m. PDT


Karl Marx (Wikimedia Commons)
Karl Marx (Wikimedia Commons)
Every semester at the University of Southern California (USC), many students spend hours and hours studying every day only to receive grade point averages that don’t reflect their hard work, participation and improvement, while others who are just naturally smart receive higher grades without as much work.

Of course it’s good for a student to receive the grade that reflects his or her ability, but it's worth discussing whether there should be other components to a student’s GPA, for purposes of fairness.

Let me explain. Let’s say that a USC student is taking 18 units, has to work a part time job to pay for school and also is a member of a club. He spends all of his free time studying but still cannot exceed a 2.0 GPA. On the other hand, let’s say that there is another student who went to a private high school, is only taking 14 units, is on a full scholarship and has always been naturally smarter than his classmates. This student only spends one or two hours studying each week and effortlessly earns a 4.0 GPA.

The top one percent of students don’t even need such high GPAs, especially when there are so many others out there who are struggling just to get by. Unequal GPA distribution is stacked against those who aren’t as talented, which contributes to the increasingly widening GPA inequality gap.

Now let me ask you, does unequal GPA distribution promote equality and fairness?

It’s time for USC to adopt a plan where all students start off on a level playing field and play by the same set of rules. Such a plan would lift the burden off lower GPA earners and require those given 4.0s to pay their fair share. It’s far more encouraging for students to earn equal grades for equal work. This is how we build a productive university: by investing in the bottom up.

Currently, the top one percent of students receive more than 40 percent of the school’s total GPAs, while the bottom 80 percent of students only receive seven percent.

My plan would effectively redistribute GPAs by implementing the federal tax code:

(Tyler Talgo)
(Tyler Talgo)









It’s virtually a common understanding among society today that millionaires, billionaires and corporate jet owners are expected to share the excess of what they don’t need. So why not do the same thing with GPAs?

Sure, school grades may be different than wealth, but they are still earned the same way. If it’s not right for Wall Street to go by unchecked, then why is it alright for those graduating with honors? In real life, we expect those receiving more to contribute a little more by giving to those who cant even afford to put food on the table. So, we can fix this problem by leveling the playing field and asking those who hoard all the 4.0s to give a little bit back of what their school gave them.

It's vital that everyone, no matter your background or where you came from, has the right to at least get a fair shot. This is not going to happen as long as we turn a blind eye to those most in need.

Now, if you don’t agree with this, then ask yourself: do you believe in equal opportunity?

Redistributing grades doesn’t take away incentive, because students have such high grades already that they don’t need all the reward. By simply just spreading the grades around, we can prevent our students from graduating so greedy.

And, sharing with those less fortunate would benefit the rest of the school, because it would teach students that we are better when we're working as one. Lower-level GPA earners would be guaranteed the right of confidence, which would give them encouragement in the classroom. Smarter students would actually work harder because they would be helping their fellow classmates succeed, which would promote altruism and selflessness. At USC, every student should be treated as an equal because we are all part of the greater good, so it’s not right that some of the most talented among us get off with a free ride.

Let me be clear; there are two visions for the future: what we have now, a system in which students are rewarded for their abilities; or a system of GPA equality and fairness, in which students are rewarded based on their needs.


Reach Contributor Tyler Talgo here; follow him here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.