Princeton to use letter attached to transcript to explain grading policy and repeal
The University will begin attaching a letter detailing the policy of grade deflation and the fact that it was repealed at the beginning of this academic year to the transcripts of sophomores, juniors and seniors, University spokesperson Martin Mbugua said Tuesday.
This measure is similar to what had been in practice for the past decade while the old grading policy was still in effect. During that period, students had the option to also attach a letter to their transcript that explained the grade deflation policy to potential employers and graduate schools.
The removal of the grading policywill not be retroactively applied to the grades of students who took courses when the old grading policy was still in effect, namely sophomores, juniors and seniors, Mbugua confirmed.
Dean of the College Valerie Smith was in meetings all day Tuesday and could not be reached for comment, according to her assistant. Her office was in charge of enforcing grade deflation and will now oversee the new grading regulations, which place emphasis on quality of feedback rather than equal grading standards across disciplines.
Following the repeal of the grading policy, some students had voiced concerns about how the repeal of the policy would affect upperclassmen since they would have spent two or three years under the old policy but graduate with the repeal of the policy in effect.
A study performed by the University showed that introductory-level courses were the classes most affected by grade deflation, therefore upperclassmen who had taken introductory-level courses during their first two years at the University would, in theory, be the most affected by the change in policy.
Nevertheless, the University's decision to repeal the old grading policy has drawn a positive reaction from students, said Undergraduate Student Government president Shawon Jackson '15.
Jackson said that he was happy with the decision to repeal the policy, adding that the USG supported the recommendations of the ad hoc committee formed to evaluate the grading policy.
"Above all, I'm glad that there's a greater emphasis on providing feedback to students, rather than having a quota on the number of A's and A-'s students can receive," he said.
USG academics chair James Baase '15 added that the USG received a lot of feedback about the decision, adding that students were expressing "happy surprise" at the decision.
"It's been 10 long years, and students are ready for change," he said.
Baase added the academics committee would now focus on the transition away from grade deflation.
"The next step for us is guiding the administration towards the removal of everything grade deflation-related," he said.
However, Baase said that there is still a lot of work to be done for the students in terms of grades. "Removing grade deflation is only the first step, but it's an important step," he said.
The USG passed a resolution in September supporting the repeal of the policy, while also noting that the committee should continue to look into the effects of having a lower average GPA and the concern that a grade of A+ should correspond to a 4.3 when calculating for a student's GPA, as the university had done before 2000.
Jackson added that the USG would next be looking at ensuring that professors provide feedback to their students multiple times over the course of the semester rather than just at the end of the term.
University faculty members voted on Monday to reverse the grading policy and allow each department to determine its own grading standards. The repeal of the policy took effect immediately after the faculty meeting.