Last week Princeton faculty approved changes to their undergraduate grading policy, including the removal of “numerical targets and replacing them with grading standards developed and articulated by each department.” The committee concluded that the previous system (adopted in 2004) is a large contributor to psychological stress, making students “feel as though they are competing for a limited resource of A grades.”
New policies will emphasis “quality of feedback” rather than numerical grades. The previous faculty committee on grading will be dissolved, and a new committee – the Council on Teaching and Learning – will advance this new focus. The committee believes that these changes won’t negatively impact competitiveness of Princeton students when it comes to post-college education.
The recommendation proposes that at the beginning of each year, the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing will “review the grading history for each department and program, and the dean of the college would continue to report to the faculty on the grading record of the previous academic year.”
(Source: “Princeton faculty approves changes to grading policy” by Princeton Office of Communications)
The grading policy adopted in 2004 reflected concern among Princeton faculty about grade inflation. I predict that the new policy will exacerbate grade inflation at Princeton while reducing student “stress.” It may just also increase Princeton’s application volume and yield by removing the perception that Princeton students suffer from a more rigorous grading scale and are at a “disadvantage” when applying to graduate schools because their grades may be a tad lower.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.