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Cracks in the Bell Curve: Top Schools Tweaking Grading Systems

Publication Date: 
February 26, 2009
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
Ashby Jones

Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean Larry Kramer is quoted in a post in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog regarding grade reform at the nation's law schools:

Law school grades. The very thought of them churns our insides. We still have nightmares (literally) about the big bulletin board at Michigan upon which the grades were posted back in the mid-1990s. Lawyers, you know the dream. In some, we’re running to the board, but keep getting lost in the hallway. In others, we get there, only to find our parents (our parents!?) at the board, tearfully consoling each other over their son’s miserable performance.

Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School, for example, are switching from the traditional grade and letter policies to pass/fail systems. At the same time, New York University School of Law now allows professors to give more A’s.

...Stanford switched to a similar system last fall. Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer said that it seems to be working well. “One, [the new system] conveys more accurate information to employers without diminishing student incentive to work; two, it reduces needless grading anxiety; and three, it encourages faculty to experiment more with evaluative things they do in their classes,” Kramer said.