Durm, M. W. (1993). An A is not an A is not an A: A history of grading. In The Educational Forum (Vol. 57, pp. 294–297). Taylor & Francis.
[Describes the history of academic grading in U.S. universities from around 1785 until 1897. ]
“It seems, for some, that securing a higher grade point average takes precedence over knowledge, learning career-related skills, and other aspects needed to compete in todays world.” (¶1)
[Social class was important at Harvard.]
“Differentiating between students in the very earliest days of American colleges and universities seemed to center around social class. For example, in the early years of Harvard, students were not arranged alphabetically but were listed according to the social position of their families (Eliot, 1935).” (¶6)
[Essentially, the history shows that academic grading simply went from a pass/fail system to an arbitrary stratification of grades as we might use them today. The differentiation between grade levels is shown as arbitrary in that the divisions were not set according to any evidence that might support the stratifications being created. It should be noted that these developments in grading largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution, that is, from around 1760 until approximately 1840. –oki]