Sunday, December 05, 2004

Law School Grading

Two Michigan law students post their thoughts on law school grading. One proposes the following,
a more sophisticated version of “Pass/Fail,” like the ones implemented at Boalt Hall (Berkeley’s law school) and Yale Law. I think the argument goes that we could have a system where the delineations are: Honors/Pass/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.

As I see it, this avoids the normal Pass/Fail problem where students are only motivated to do enough work to avoid the dreaded “Fail” on their transcript. With the H/P/S/U system, you’ll still have room for the wannabe clerks to get the H’s, the teeming masses to get their P’s, the less-motivated masses to squeak by with S’s, and the truly unmotivated to wonder if a U will forever bar them from graduation.
The other proposes this,
I think that the first semester of law school should be P/F, with grades being assigned and given to students but not released on the transcript. That way, people will have a chance to learn and work hard and see if they're doing the right things.
Both posts are worthy of complete reading.

I favor Heidi's suggestion of a P/F for 1L's first semester with the grades from that semester only released to students and not employers. It would give everyone one semester to figure things out, which is especially needed since the only real feedback to law students comes in the form of a graded final. Besides, school is about continually improving one's self through learning and that would be better accomplished with such a grading system in place. It would motivate those who didn't do so well their first semester, to get their shit together; and knowing that, those who did do well their first semester, know that they have to keep their foot on the gas.

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