A professor should be able to.
From a very long Cap Times article on grade inflation at UW:
The paper’s analysis also found that a surprisingly high number of A’s and B’s are being handed out all over campus, mirroring a decades-long trend. In the fall of 1958, the average grade-point average for undergraduates at UW-Madison was 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. It was 2.9 by 1988 and by 2008, according to the most recent reports available, had reached 3.2.
The typical response: students are just smarter and working harder for their grades. First, if students are getting smarter, why hold them to lower standards? Second, it is simply factually inaccurate that students are working harder.
In fact, as grades have crept up, the amount of time students are studying appears to be dropping.
According to a paper titled “Leisure College, USA,” which was published in 2008 by two University of California system researchers, the average study time for full-time students at four-year institutions across the U.S. dropped from 24.4 hours per week in 1961 to 14.5 hours per week in 2003. More recently, the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement indicated more than two-thirds of freshman and senior undergraduates at UW-Madison reported spending less than 15 hours per week preparing for class.
Yes, some departments don’t have the same function of assigning grades, and giving high grades across the board may be permissible in those cases. But, is it only those departments that are responsible for this inflationary trend? Probably not.
Students need to know if they are good or bad in certain subjects. And a greater intellectual commitment needs to be necessary to earn high grades at a “public ivy” like ours. Nothing will change, but it should.