This piece, by Jay Mathews, the WaPos education columnist, examines the history and current status of the letter grade. The most chilling quote comes at the end:
"Ask any number of parents and students what they are hoping to get out of a given class and they will tell you, A good grade, " [high school teacher Jason] Busby said. "Ask them, as I do every year of my students, if they would accept an A at the cost of learning nothing about the subject in class. . . . The answer is 99 percent yes."