Up For Debate: Grade Inflation

May 7th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

A California law school raises grades to help students be more competitive.

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The Responsibility Project

Is it ethical for a law school to retroactively raise the grades of students and graduates in order to increase their employment chances?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Loyola Law School in Los Angeles will “boost by one step” the previously-earned grades of all current students as well as graduates from 2007 onward, to help them “remain competitive with other California law schools.”

The grade inflation means “what previously was a B- would be a B, what previously was a B would be a B+, and so forth,” explained Dean Victor J. Gold, who noted that Loyola’s previously tougher grading system had been “sending incorrect information about our students, and frankly, it was putting them at an unfair competitive disadvantage in a pretty tough job market.”

“Although employers often gauge law students' academic achievement based on their class rank,” says The Chronicle, “some governmental agencies will not consider hiring students with less than a B average.” With Loyola’s first-year student average of B- “you automatically exclude them from employment with those agencies," said Dean Gold. "We're not trying to make them look better than other comparable students at other schools. We just want them to be on an even playing field."

Blogger and Harvard Law alum Elie Mystal disagreed, however, writing on Above The Law: “That’s not just inflation; that’s a rewriting of history.”