Search the Lounge


« Lateral Faculty Moves List Now Updated | Main | Barak Richman on Rabbinic Cartels »

May 16, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I don't think I understand how curves ensure that low-performing students are noticed. Shouldn't those students get poor grades anyway? Is the point that without a curve, grade inflation occurs and even the worst students end up with a B? (But if so, isn't the presence of a large number of B's on the transcript the signal, instead of C's?)

Dan Filler

jlwoj - You're right that weak students might be identified in a non-curved environment. In my experience, however, most exams really do spread out on a curve. And faculty naturally seem to prefer to give high grades, irrespective of this. If faculty are not forced to curve - and to identify some exams as distinctly stronger than others (i.e., with a curve that has some real spread) - they often come up with a ton of B's (conflating what might otherwise be C+'s, B-'s, and B's). The law school can't figure out which B's are true B's and which are true C+'s. Worse, neither can students - and since they're mostly optimistic, few think their B is really a C.

I understand why students would prefer higher nominal grades - they look better on a resume. But my view is that, once a student is in the bottom half of his or her class, grades are not a student's strength in any case. And the costs of having a C+ rather than a B pale compared to the risk of failing the bar.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad