Within the last week, the British Government, or more specifically the Education Minister, Estelle Morris, proposed a new grade of A* for the British A level (now subdivided into AS and A2). This change would counter the grade inflation of recent years which has meant that 18.6% of candidates now obtain the top grade of A compared to less than 10% in 1970. The new grade would be awarded to the top 5% of candidates and would allow universities to discrimate between the good and the very good.
This is not the first measure which has been proposed by Britain's Labour Government to solve the problem of grade inflation, in the summer of 2002 the new "World Class Tests" or Advanced Extension Awards (AEAs) are being introduced in the hope that they will provide a new standard for universities to judge entrants by. Yet again, the British Government have confused the issue, by introducing contradictary measures at the same time.
N.B. The A* was introduced at GCSE in 1994. It supplanted the A a the highest grade in response to accusations of grade inflation.