To the Editor:

I applaud your News’ View, “Grade Inflation Can’t Be Fixed By the Numbers” (4/16). In it, you endorse the assignment of a spectrum of grades to students, and encourage professors to give students the grades they earn.

As a graduate student teaching fellow, I’m sure I speak for the majority of my colleagues in saying the following: Grading is one of the most challenging tasks we face during the semester. I would like nothing better than to provide only comments and suggestions on papers and exams, and never have to make that final decision on a number or letter. Unfortunately, though, that’s not an option.

The best we can do is be clear with our expectations on each assignment, evaluate your work thoroughly, and let you know exactly why you received the grade you did. Anything less and we’re not doing our job. Ultimately, the grading process should help you identify and monitor your areas of academic strength and weakness.

The other thing that doesn’t get emphasized enough at Yale: Professors and teaching fellows evaluate your work, not you. A mediocre grade should not — the News was right — be construed as a personal offense.

Valerie Thaler ’94, GRD ’06

April 16, 2004