Last night the faculty of Yale University decided to postpone voting on a controversial modification to the school's grading system — essentially, instituting a grading curve — thus averting a major outcry from Yale's undergraduate body, as evidenced by string of negative articles in the school's newspaper and a lengthy report from its student government. Yale's faculty isn't abandoning their cause, though: they've simply delayed their decision until November, when the debate over grading is sure to arise again. But what is that debate, exactly?
Yale's current system is a bit complicated — you can decide to take certain classes under a separate "Credit/D/Fail" option — but otherwise recognizable, with A, A-, B+, and so forth, each of which corresponding to a certain number on a 4.0 grading scale. The new system, advocated by certain members of Yale's faculty and staff, however, uses a 100-point grading system that, in theory, better captures the merit a certain grade expresses. (Using 100 points, professors distribute grades according to a pre-determined rubric — a.k.a. a curve.) The problem this fixes, as many Yale professors and students diagnose it, is pretty simple: a full 62 percent — nearly two-thirds — of grades awarded in Yale College, the university's undergraduate school, are A or A-. (That wasn't case four decades ago, when just 1 out of 10 grades awarded fell in the A range.)