Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pass/fail grading?

Some law schools (including some that didn't have real grades to start with) have switched officially to pass/fail as classes move online; others have not.   Law professor Jonathan Adler (Case Western) argues against switching to P/F, while Noah Zatz (UCLA) argues in favor.  My own view is that it probably depends on the school and the course, and that there is no "one size fits all" answer.  (An example:  I can imagine a school switching a course to P/F for all students if the instructor falls ill for several weeks; or a school might allow students afflicted with illness or caregiving responsibilities to switch to P/F as needed.)  I will note that the economic fallout from the pandemic will almost certainly affect law firm hiring significantly, meaning that actual grades will be more important for students than before (again, how important will depend on the school, but we know from the Great Recession of 2008 that all schools will be affected, even if to differing degrees).    Mandatory P/F may hurt some students if they are competing against students from schools that continued to grade.

UPDATE:  I'm told that many students at Harvard Law School objected when the Dean announced they were switching to P/F.

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