A decade after implementing a grade deflation policy, Princeton faculty voted on Monday to reverse the measure, effective immediately.
Instead of limiting the portion of “As” to 35 percent of total grades, each university department will now determine its own grading standards and distributions. The new grading policy asks faculty to evaluate their students based on “well-designed, meaningful grading standards,” according to the Daily Princetonian.
The vote was prompted by an August report that showed a mere five percent of students and six percent of faculty considered the grade deflation policy an effective method of ensuring equitable and consistent evaluation standards.
Princeton faculty members in favor of the change listed the former guidelines’ negative impacts on application rates and enrolled students’ willingness to take risks in course selection as reasons for reversing the policy. According to the Daily Princetonian, some professors also said that grading decisions should be left up to individual departments.
Several Princeton students interviewed expressed enthusiasm for the reversal of the policy.
Devon Naftzger, a junior in Princeton’s politics department, said she is thrilled that administrators have reversed a policy that made her and other Princeton students look less capable than their peers at comparable institutions. Naftzger also noted that the policy affected majors disproportionately, adding that it was “particularly bad” for engineers.
“The fact is that students who had put in A-level work were getting grades that didn’t reflect that because this arbitrary quota was in place,” she said.
Kathleen Feng, a prospective engineering major, said that even before entering Princeton as a freshman this fall, she had been fairly sure that the grade deflation policy would be reversed due to the findings in the committee’s report. Though Feng said most Princeton students were unsurprised by the outcome of the faculty’s vote, many of her peers expressed excitement through social media when the decision became official. She added that the policy would have been yet another added level of stress and even a potential deterrent against collaborating on problem sets and similar assignments.
Yale most recently considered adopting a grade deflation policy in Nov. 2013, when a University committee proposed a switch to a numerical grading system with distribution guidelines, but so far has not implemented any such change.
Princeton will now attach a letter explaining the grade deflation policy and its repeal to the transcripts of all upperclassmen.