Remember the barely watchable movie Major League II? Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn arrives at spring training with an assortment of off-speed curveballs and change-ups, abandoning his 100-mph-plus fastball essentially because he’s gone soft.
That (terrible) plot is being carried out by the nation’s top law schools. We’ve reported on HLS and SLS moving away from letter grades. We scuttled a poll by Columbia Law School trying to ascertain whether students there wanted to move to a modified pass/fail system. Now, despite earlier protestation from some members of the student body, NYU Law is now moving towards their own version of grade reform. The hope, apparently, is sterling transcripts for all, academic competition for none:
In Fall 2007, the Executive Committee of the faculty re-evaluated the NYU grade curve as part of a broader charge. The Committee concluded that the curve appears to be somewhat out of line with peer schools, and expressed concern that an unintended effect could be that it systematically disadvantages our students applying for clerkships and some other jobs.
Is there no end to this madness? In essence, that letter represents a bunch of students saying:
Whaaaa. Law school is hard. I want my clerky-ships. How come Johnny gets all the good grades? Whaaaa!
And NYU is caving. They’re throwing a curveball in a 3-1 count instead of having the guts to throw a hard strike.
Getting good grades is not a right. And it shouldn’t be a gift. Some people have the talent and focus to get good grades, other people have the social skills to get laid. What precisely was wrong with that system?
Read the full NYU Law memo after the jump.
NYU LAW SCHOOL — MEMO — GRADE CURVE
To: Law School Students
From: Richard Revesz
Date: October 17, 2008
Re: Grade curve
In Fall 2007, the Executive Committee of the faculty re-evaluated the NYU grade curve as part of a broader charge. The Committee concluded that the curve appears to be somewhat out of line with peer schools, and expressed concern that an unintended effect could be that it systematically disadvantages our students applying for clerkships and some other jobs. It had been some years since we examined our grade curve, and so I charged this year’s Executive Committee with reviewing the grading curve, and if necessary, recommending an adjustment to bring it more in line with our peer schools. As part of that charge, the Committee will also report on the desirability of adding an A+ grade.
We’ve appreciated the contributions of the two SBA representatives who serve on the Executive Committee, and at their recommendation invite you to share your thoughts about this proposed modification at the first Town Hall meeting for this academic year. The Committee has not reached its final conclusions yet, although it has determined that in no case will the standard for receiving a particular grade be raised.
I look forward to seeing you at the Town Hall on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, from 11:00-11:50 AM, in VH 218. We can discuss this issue, as well as others that might be on your mind.