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Tulane Honors Program

Monday, January 31, 2005

Clarification on Princeton's Grading Policy

From the Office of the Dean of the College:
Princeton's new expectations posit a common grading standard for every academic department and program, under which A's (A , A, A-) shall account for less than 35 percent of the grades given in undergraduate courses and less than 55 percent of the grades given in junior and senior independent work. These percentages are consistent with historical grading patterns at Princeton for the two decades between the early 1970s and the early 1990s. For departments that have maintained these patterns over the last decade, the new policy will affirm established practice. For other departments, the new policy will mark a significant break with recent practice. Overall, implementing the new expectations across the University will, at least at present, set Princeton's grade distribution well apart from those of its closest peers.

[Thanks to Scott C. for the link. -Cb]


  • I think I've received fair grades at Tulane. Of course, I'm IR/History, so grades can vary quite a bit based on the prof. If one group of students is particularly strong, does the A- paper become a B-? If the student is capable of doing better, but his paper still beats nearly everyone else's in the class, is that still an A? If a poor student improves, do you give him a B when anyone else would get a C? I have no complaints; in my experience so far, undeservedly high grades balance the unfairly low.

    Of course, the commotion about grade inflation might raise some questions about our idea of education. Do a certain number of people have to fail before we're willing to concede that the A students deserve their grades? It seems like the grade inflation question assumes that if half the class makes an A, that half isn't being challenged enough. The gleeful discovery of grade inflation at the most selective universities also seems pretty spiteful in some reports. But look at the stats--90% of the incoming class at the Ivies came from the top 10% of their high schools. Maybe half the class really do work hard enough to deserve As.

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 2:04 PM  

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