A Case for Grade Inflation in Legal Education
Joshua M. Silverstein
University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law
May 6, 2013
University of San Francisco Law Review, Vol. 47, p. 487, Winter 2013
UALR Bowen School Research Paper No. 13-07
This article contends that every American law school ought to substantially eliminate C grades by settings its good academic standing grade point average at the B- level. Grading systems that require or encourage law professors to award a significant number of C marks are flawed for two reasons. First, low grades damage students’ placement prospects. Employers frequently consider a job candidate’s absolute GPA in making hiring decisions. If a school systematically assigns inferior grades, its students are at an unfair disadvantage when competing for employment with students from institutions that award mostly A’s and B’s. Second, marks in the C range injure students psychologically. Students perceive C’s as a sign of failure. Accordingly, when they receive such grades, their stress level is exacerbated in unhealthy ways. This psychological harm is both intrinsically problematic and compromises the educational process. Substantially eliminating C grades will bring about critical improvements in both the fairness of the job market and the mental well-being of our students. These benefits outweigh any problems that might be caused or aggravated by inflated grades. C marks virtually always denote unsatisfactory work in American graduate education. Law schools are the primary exception to this convention. It is time we adopted the practice followed by the rest of the academy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 84Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 7, 2013 ; Last revised: December 8, 2013
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