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Stanford Law Changes Grading System

Publication Date: 
May 30, 2008
The Harvard Crimson
Kevin Zhou

Dean Larry Kramer is quoted in The Harvard Crimson about Stanford's new grading system:

With talks beginning as early as last year, Stanford Law School Dean Larry D. Kramer said in a telephone interview Friday that the reforms were driven by growing faculty and student discontent over the existing grading system.

“We had created a false sense of precision and drew distinctions among students that weren’t really valid,” he said. “The biggest desire was that we wanted people to pick classes based on what they wanted to learn and not on grades.”

The decision—which was made on Wednesday—received strong support from the faculty.

Kramer said that law school officials have talked to a large number of individuals from Yale in designing the new grading program.

“We wanted to get a better sense of the consequences,” Kramer said. “I think the main benefits are it reduces exam pressure inside so that students can focus less on grades and more on the subject.”

Students were notified of the decision in an e-mail by Kramer on Thursday.

“No grading system is perfect, but the consensus is that the reform will have significant pedagogical benefits, including that it encourages greater flexibility and innovation in the classroom and in designing metrics for evaluating student work,” Kramer said in the e-mail.

The faculty has not determined when the transition will be made, but the “latest would be a year,” Kramer said.