Harvard University Asks Faculty to Reevaluate Their Grading
Weeks after allegations of rampant grade inflation, Harvard University professors are being asked to justify the grades they give students.
Dean of undergraduate education Susan Pedersen announced at a recent faculty meeting that faculty members will have until January to provide written explanations of their grading systems.
According to The Boston Globe, Pedersen said a committee will then review the reports and make recommendations based on the data.
A Globe report earlier this month revealed that a record 91 percent of Harvard students graduated summa, magna or cum laude last June, indicating that the A to F grading range had unofficially turned to an A to B-minus range.
By comparison, 51 percent of graduates at Yale received honors and 44 percent at Princeton, while other Ivy League universities also had a much lower rate of honors students than at Harvard.
Although the honors issue was not discussed at the faculty meeting, the university’s new president Lawrence H. Summers says he was still concerned about it, as well as the grading, and planned to consult with professors abut the issue.
Many department faculty are welcoming the opportunity to show themselves as tough graders with extraordinary students.
English department head and former dean of undergraduate education Dr. Lawrence Buell says the university should consider a system similar to the one used by Dartmouth College where students receive two grades. The first is the grade earned by the student; the second is the median grade for the class, showing graduate schools whether an A is a common grade or a rare one.
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