Back when I was riding my dinosaur to class (1946–1950), we were graded from 1+ (the best) to 7- (see you next year). As an engineering student, I suppose it was easier to establish a grade (2+2 always equaled 4), but I knew lots of non-engineers whose grading didn’t seem to be a problem for their professors.
When Princeton changed from the education model to the business model and grade enhancement became a way of life, the grading process changed. I have always believed that grades should represent what you have learned and retained, not a way of improving Princeton’s standing in the rarified air of the “best schools.” One of my classmates topped the charts every semester with a 1+, and I am sure he earned it.
After one leaves the halls of higher learning for what used to be the real world, one hopefully will be judged based on performance, not a framed piece of parchment on the wall of one’s den or office. The study quoted bears out the business-model problem. Higher costs must equate to better results in academia.