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Stanford Law School Approves Grade Reform: Rejoice?

Publication Date: 
May 29, 2008
Above The Law
David Lat

Dean Larry Kramer's e-mail announcing the law school's decision to adopt a grade reform proposal was published in the Above the Law blog:

From: Larry D Kramer
Date: Thu, May 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM
Subject: Grade Reform

Dear All:

Yesterday afternoon, the faculty voted to adopt a grade reform proposal which will change our grading system to an honors, pass, restricted credit, no credit system for all semesters/quarters. The new system includes a shared norm for the proportion of honors to be awarded in both exam and paper courses. 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.

As you may know, we spent all year studying the issue and discussing the likely advantages for recruiting students, placing our graduates in practice and clerkships, reducing the disparity between on-mean and off-mean courses, and, above all, enhancing the intellectual environment of the law school. I am extremely grateful for the student input we received, not only from the student liaison committee but from countless others who wrote emails, met with faculty, and spoke with me directly. We benefited immensely from your contributions.

Yesterday, the faculty agreed only on the basic proposal. We have not yet voted on the timing of our transition to the new system or a number of other details. For now, then, the decision does not and should not affect your course planning or anything else. We are working to settle the transition questions as quickly as possible and will inform you as soon as they have been resolved.