Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Law Schools Adopt Pass-Fail Grades As They Move Online Amid COVID-19

Law.com, Law Schools Adopt Pass-Fail Grades as They Move Online Amid COVID-19:

CoronavirusSeveral top law schools this week have announced switching to pass/fail grading for the spring semester, now that courses and exams are being delivered online amid the coronavirus pandemic. And many law school administrators have told students they are weighing changes to grading procedures and plan to announce such decisions in the coming days.

Thus far, Stanford Law School; Harvard Law School; the University of Michigan Law School; the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and Cornell Law School have said they have adopted what is effectively a pass/fail system—the names vary by campus—or are giving students the option to have their grades issued as a pass or fail for the current semester. All American Bar Association-accredited law schools are now holding classes online, or will soon begin online classes.

The move to pass/fail grading is a dramatic shift for law schools, where grades play a large role in employment opportunities and co-curricular activities such as eligibility for law review, especially for first-year students. Mandatory curves are staples of law school grading systems and many students pay close attention to their class rank—which is determined by grade-point averages. ...

Cornell Law School is among the first to make the move. A memo to the faculty issued March 16 informed them that all spring classes will be graded as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, regardless of their original grading designation.

TaxProf Blog coronavirus coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/03/law-schools-adopt-pass-fail-grades-as-they-move-online-amid-covid-19.html

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

I'm a realist. There's already reason enough to wonder if some law students will get a topic down as well online as in a classroom. Please don't add pass-fail to those law students's incentive to slough off.

And yeah, there's also reason to suspect that moving to pass-fail is an attempt to conceal that law school admission quotas are failing to screen out students who aren't up to what should be the school's standards. It's call mismatch and it's bad for all involved.

Posted by: Mike Perry | Mar 19, 2020 4:45:28 PM

@Mike,

You are aware that (at least) Yale, Harvard, and Stanford law schools have had variants on H/P/F grading systems for some time now, yes? Decades in the case of Yale.

"And yeah, there's also reason to suspect that moving to pass-fail is an attempt to conceal that law school admission quotas are failing to screen out students who aren't up to what should be the school's standards. It's call mismatch and it's bad for all involved."

Weird, because the publicly-available data from the ABA Form 509s, Law School Transparency, etc. clearly shows that admissions standards have been climbing since 2017.

Also that whole "mismatch theory" and the underlying data has been shredded in several articles in leading journals. Time for new talking points.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 20, 2020 9:02:34 AM

Unemployed: "The publicly-available data from the ABA Form 509s, Law School Transparency, etc. clearly shows that admissions standards have been climbing since 2017."

If the data is easy to find and publicly-available, why didn't you cite them?

Are you capable of citing them?

If so, please do so. Pardon me for not trusting your word. Given your track record on demonstrating factual knowledge, or rather failing to, it isn't worth much...

Posted by: MM | Mar 23, 2020 7:44:39 PM