In my experience, it seems that "grade inflation" is practiced by *many* ski schools.
I often ski with people who posess only modest skiing skills (even within the recreational spectrum), and when they come back from taking a lesson, they are extremely proud of the fact that they were placed in a class of 7's or 8's.
I strongly disapprove of this, and feel that level boundaries defined in this way are completely at variance with common sense which tells you that there simply can't be many true experts and near-experts in ANY field.
However, from the point of view of the resort, I guess that this grade-inflated definition accomplishes several things:
1) It makes most guests very happy (especially kids and teenagers), and keeps them coming back;
2) It lets them progress through the levels rapidly and feel like they are making progress, especially in the early stages of skiing, and;
3) It "equalizes the histogram" - ie, it artificially makes the numbers of students at each level closer to being equal because this policy essentially takes students out of the middle of the curve and puts them in the tails. This probably helps to equlize class sizes and reduces the number of staff that need to be on call at any time (ie, reduces costs).
FWIW, there also seems to be a huge gulf between the levels that ski schools use in assigning students to class and the corresponding PSIA numbers. Again, I don't like this because of the potential for confusion, but at least in this case, its understandable how this difference could arise: The PSIA numbers are really meant only to classify skiing professionals (ie, for internal, not public use).
What all this means to me is that I usually have to mentally subtract one or two levels from what most recreational skiers say is their level, but I am never really sure if this is needed until I ski with them. For example, I suspect that most recreational skiers here on EpicSki don't inflate their level as much as the general public does.
Tom "9 at www.Aspen,
6 in my own mind" PM