Law School Administration Takes Grade Distributions Offline

by Martin Mack

Many students may notice that previous semesters’ grade distributions have been removed from the UConn Law website. The distributions had been previously available before the website revamp, though as discussed in last month’s issue, the new website contains much of the same overall content, though it has been streamlined to roughly ten percent of the previous number of pages. Though some of the missing content will return, as of now, the grade distributions will not. The SBA reports that students can access the distributions in the Registrar’s Office, and evening students can call the Registrar to schedule after hours appointments.

The decision not to repost the grade distributions on the website was made by the Registrar after consulting the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Leslie Levin. Levin reported that she had been unaware that the distributions had been on the old website, and felt their inclusion on the new website would “do more harm than good by encouraging some students to select their courses based on the likelihood of obtaining a good grade rather than on the educational benefits that they would derive.”

Levin went on to say, “there are many good reasons for choosing a particular course, but [looking at grade distributions] has no educational value. I do not believe that the Law School should enable or facilitate this type of decision-making.”

Student concern over grades is not a new issue for law schools. Though some schools have various grade-free systems (i.e. Harvard, Yale, Northeastern), curved grading systems are the norm. With the Great Recession changing the legal landscape and the prospective employment, most students feel their grades are more important than ever. Many students interviewed for this article report using grade distributions when determining their schedules, as one of many factors.

Law Schools approach grade distributions differently. Schools such as Georgetown, U Texas-Austin, and Iowa place their distributions behind a student portal, like the previous UConn Law website. Washington U, Indiana U-Bloomington, and Pepperdine do not require credentials to access their distributions. George Mason and U Minnesota do not post their distributions online at all, rather like UConn Law’s new policy, require students visit the Registrar’s Office.

The SBA met with Levin to discuss the issue on October 16. Levin told the Pro Se that the issue was still being discussed and that it was to be raised at the October 21 Dean’s meeting.

As the policy discussions are ongoing, students can look to Pro Se Online for any further updates.

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