grade inflation

Princeton's recently reported decision to institute a quota for the number of A and A- grades allowed for each section has been attracting a certain amount of attention (see for instance Freedom to Tinker and The Little Professor ). Like them, I see it as a misguided step. I'd be curious to know where the impetus for it comes from -- for instance, at Large Urban University, the sciences and social sciences frequently assert /complain that the grades are higher in humanities courses. However, class size (we have much smaller courses) and work process (much more one-to-one faculty-student attention -- comments on papers vs multiple choice tests) would seem to have a huge impact on the grades given. In my own classes, for instance, effort and improvement over time (learning to write a decent thesis statement, or learning to scan a poem properly) count for far more than discrete empirical bits of knowledge. Which therefore requires different kinds of grading methods. But try telling that to someone in sociology...

When insituting a quota for As, do they also plan a quota for Bs?

And how important, ultimately, is a GPA anymore? That's a real question. Certainly in our graduate admissions, GPA doesn't count as much as the GRE, writing sample & rec letters -- precisely because we know how fuzzy and unreliable it can be. But I don't know how that stands in law school, business school, or the sciences.