Stanford’s new system — which will award grades of honors, pass, restricted credit and no credit — resembles that at Yale Law School, whose four grades are honors, pass, low pass and fail. Across the bay, the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law also eschews letter grades but has two levels above pass: honors and high honors. Those who support the change at Stanford argue that shifting from the precision of letter grades to broader categories will reduce some pressure and refocus students’ and professors’ energies on classroom learning. Others worry that de-emphasizing students’ GPAs could disadvantage them with potential employers, although that hasn’t proven to be an issue with new Yale or Berkeley lawyers.How low in the pecking order can you go before the employers want to see real grades? And how many employers will believe this notion that students will focus more on "classroom learning" if they are relieved of the pressure of grades?
It does sound nice for the teachers — I say as I glance over the top of my laptop at the last few of the 100 exams I need to grade to meet my deadline (which is today). It would be so much easier to look an exam and only need to decide if this is one I want to bump up to "honors" or need to mark with an ugly negative.