Sparked by our conversation about grade inflation at Williams, I will be reviewing different aspects of Princeton’s grading policy at noon each day this week.

Let’s start with this background from the New York Times.

Type-A-Plus Students Chafe at Grade Deflation

When Princeton University set out six years ago to corral galloping grade inflation by putting a lid on A’s, many in academia lauded it for taking a stand on a national problem and predicted that others would follow.

But the idea never took hold beyond Princeton’s walls, and so its bold vision is now running into fierce resistance from the school’s Type-A-plus student body.

With the job market not what it once was, even for Ivy Leaguers, Princetonians are complaining that the campaign against bulked-up G.P.A.’s may be coming at their expense.

“The nightmare scenario, if you will, is that you apply with a 3.5 from Princeton and someone just as smart as you applies with a 3.8 from Yale,” said Daniel E. Rauch, a senior from Millburn, N.J.

The percentage of Princeton grades in the A range dipped below 40 percent last year, down from nearly 50 percent when the policy was adopted in 2004. The class of 2009 had a mean grade-point average of 3.39, compared with 3.46 for the class of 2003.

Good stuff. Princeton has proved that grade inflation can be stopped and even reversed. Williams should do the same.

In September, the student government sent a letter to the faculty questioning whether professors were being overzealous in applying the policy. And last month, The Daily Princetonian denounced the policy in an editorial, saying it had “too many harmful consequences that outweigh the good intentions behind the system.”

Will Slack ’11 has confirmed in comments in that previous thread that Princeton students are unhappy with the policy and will seek to change it.

By the way, my 11 year old daughter is upset with the amount of homework that she is assigned. She and her classmates are organizing a protest.

The Princeton students and my daughter’s fellow 6th graders are about equally likely to achieve their goals. Princeton’s policy is too popular with professor and too successful in its aims to be threatened by student whining, at least for the next decade.

Some students respect the tougher posture. “What people don’t realize is that grades at different schools always have different meanings, and people at Goldman Sachs or the Marshall Scholarship have tons of experience assessing different G.P.A.’s,” said Jonathan Sarnoff, a sophomore who sits on the editorial board of The Daily Princetonian. “A Princeton G.P.A. is different from the G.P.A. at the College of New Jersey down the road.”

Faye Deal, the associate dean for admissions and financial aid at Stanford Law School, said she had read Princeton’s literature on the policy and continued “to view Princeton candidates in the same fashion — strong applicants with excellent preparation.”

Goldman Sachs, one of the most sought-after employers, said it did not apply a rigid G.P.A. cutoff. “Princeton knows that; everyone knows that,” said Gia Morón, a company spokeswoman, explaining that recruiters consider six “core measurements,” including achievement, leadership and commercial focus.

Correct, and just what I explained last week. But read the whole article for more background and dissenting views. The main issue not addressed is the effect of lower GPAs on a Princeton student’s ability to get admitted to a second tier law school or hired by a firm with a hard GPA cut-off (and not any/much knowledge of why GPA X at Princeton means something different than that same GPA at another school).

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