Grade Reform, Law Schools

NYU Law Freaks Out Responds To Grade Reform

New York University Law School NYU Law School Above the Law.JPGAccording to our poll Tuesday, the majority of you prefer a traditional A,B,C,D grading system over a modified Yale system like the ones adopted by Harvard and Stanford.

Apparently, NYU law students agree that A,B,C,D is the best way to go.

In The Commentator, NYU Law School’s student newspaper, Andrew Gehring vehemently disagrees with the changes adopted by HLS and SLS:

Attempting to provide content to [Stanford Law School Dean Larry] Kramer ‘s claim about “pedagogical benefits” is a more or less futile exercise. I can see no way for a grading system that essentially just eliminates the +/- aspect of the standard system to have an impact on a professor’s teaching style, so the claim about “innovation” seems hollow. (Even if we accept that the system refocuses students on learning–which I’ll dispute momentarily–it seems like professors always teach to get their students to learn, not to get the best grade.) And there’s no more freedom for “designing metrics of evaluat[ion]” under the new system than there would be under a traditional system that isn’t tied to a curve.

Wow. Tell us what you really think.

One tipster suggests that NYU is just feeling like an old, bald man shopping for a corvette:

NYUs student magazine published an editorial slamming Harvards new grading policy and defending NYUs/Columbias traditional approach, which to me seemed very interesting and a standard pattern in NYUs general inferiority complex.

More kvetching from NYU Law after the jump.

We opined that reforms at HLS and SLS might be more geared towards keeping ahead of NYU/Columbia instead of gunning for Yale. The Commentator seems to agree and fears Columbia following suit:

Why have I spent 700 words bashing a system that NYU (thankfully) doesn’t use? Because I’m worried. I think Stanford’s and Harvard’s moves to new systems were done to attract new students. If that same mindset settles in at, say, Columbia, NYU may find itself thinking hard about following suit, not wanting to lose potential students because of a perceived better grading system at our neighbor to the north. I just want this to serve as an early warning about how phony and dishonest any such shift would come across.

When it comes to grading systems, isn’t perception reality? If prospective students like the Yale/Berkeley system better, and future employers like the Yale/Berkeley system better, doesn’t that make the Yale/Berkeley system better?

The red-herring is that one grading system is somehow objectively better than a different system. Grades are, at best, just a proxy for actual knowledge. Many people receive excellent grades in subjects they know nothing about.

There is nothing “dishonest” about playing follow the leader if the leader is giving students, professors, and employers what they want. It’s just good business.

Harvard’s Too Good For Grades; We Aren’t [The Commentator]

Earlier: Grade Reform Reaction Roundup

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