An HLS student has just forwarded me the e-mail from Dean Kagan, which reads in pertinent part:
I am writing to let you know that the faculty decided yesterday to move to a grading system with fewer classifications than we have now. The new classifications, much as at Yale and Stanford, will be Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail. The faculty believes that this decision will promote pedagogical excellence and innovation and further strengthen the intellectual community in which we all live. The new system will apply to students entering HLS in fall 2009; yet to be determined is whether it also will apply to some or all classes of current students.
We discussed the Stanford move and its ramifications awhile back. Presumably Harvard has evidence that the grading system is a factor when students choose between Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. But Harvard's move is also going to force Chicago and Columbia, among others, to weigh the question of grading. Harvard, with a much larger class, may need a real curve so that it's new A, B, C, F system provides employers some pertinent information. Whethere there will be one is unclear. Thoughts from faculty and students at Harvard or elsewhere? Signed comments preferred, though I'll permit anonymous postings as long as there is identifying information (e-mail, IP address) consistent with any claims made about a particular school in the content of the comment. Thanks.