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Malkiel meets with students to discuss grading practices

Bringing the issue of grade inflation back to campus after it received national attention, Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel met with student representatives for the first time since her grading report was issued.

Sunday's USG meeting gave students the opportunity to discuss grade inflation, P/D/F reform and the possibility of more flexible finals with Malkiel.

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Because the Committee on Examinations and Standing does not include students, the grade inflation report was issued without the consultation of students. However, Malkiel said Sunday that any policy change would incorporate student suggestions.

Yesterday, Malkiel asked the departments to meet with their student departmental advisory committees to obtain student input on grading practices, according to Nina Kohn '99, who received the information through a letter to the Wilson School committee.

"We have no intention of disadvantaging Princeton students," Malkiel said. "Were we to see some adjustment in grading patterns and practices, we would be doing everything we could to make it known to graduate and professional schools. We would be doing everything we could to support Princeton students," she said.

Malkiel also said the University would not take unilateral action without discussing grading with peer institutions. She said she would present the grading report when she meets with representatives from Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago in the spring.

Not 'Princeton-specific'

"I will put my data on the table," Malkiel said. "We will look at it in tandem, in effect; this is not a Princeton-specific situation."

USG academics chair Todd Rich '00 asked Malkiel why policy recommendations were made in a report about grading at the University. "It was obviously not just presentation of the data. It was data plus an interpretation," Rich said.

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"What you see as a policy recommendation and what I see and the faculty sees are somewhat different," Malkiel responded.

Malkiel reiterated her argument that As have become easier to attain and many departments have demonstrated more relaxed grading trends.

"Sometimes students do remarkably little work in a course, and you'd be amazed at how professors are unwilling to hold them accountable," she said.

Malkiel said that the Committee on Examinations and Standing will vote on the "P/D/F-rescind option." Although USG president David Ascher '99 has said he hopes the P/D/F-rescind option would be implemented by fall 1998, Malkiel said logistical obstacles in the Registrar's office may make a delay necessary.

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"Realism suggests that we look to implement a change in '99-2000 rather than '98-'99," Malkiel said.

Malkiel also questioned whether the Honor Code was strong enough to withstand a flexible finals system.

"If someone at your table is taking the economics exam tomorrow and you've already taken it and you're letting off steam, you might say 'can you believe what he asked on that first question?'" Malkiel said. "The person taking the exam tomorrow wasn't bargaining to hear that."

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