Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

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Stylnator

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Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby Stylnator » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:41 pm

Concerned that Northeastern graduates are hard to evaluate against other candidates when looking for jobs if there's really no way to compare the two. And I'm not sure if their co-op program justifies them not having grades? I want to do PI so I know experience is factored heavier than grades but to have nothing at all seems weird?

I'm really just wondering about the school and why they wouldn't give grades.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:56 pm

It's shady when it's Northeastern. It's not shady when it's Yale.

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pancakes3

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby pancakes3 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:59 pm

forced curve is a questionable grading method anyway

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby Desert Fox » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:00 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:It's shady when it's Northeastern. It's not shady when it's Yale.

It's still shady they just get away with it.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:02 pm

pancakes3 wrote:forced curve is a questionable grading method anyway


Actually, a professor of mine gave a really convincing argument for it (the professor isn't American, so they were explaining why they prefer our system). People are sorted into law school sections at random. So if you happened to get sorted into a section that had really generous graders, you'd automatically get higher grades than someone who had the misfortune to be sorted into a section with professors who wanted to show how tough they were. The curve forces professors to stick to the same scale, regardless of how they'd like to hand out grades.

grades??

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby grades?? » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:05 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:forced curve is a questionable grading method anyway


Actually, a professor of mine gave a really convincing argument for it (the professor isn't American, so they were explaining why they prefer our system). People are sorted into law school sections at random. So if you happened to get sorted into a section that had really generous graders, you'd automatically get higher grades than someone who had the misfortune to be sorted into a section with professors who wanted to show how tough they were. The curve forces professors to stick to the same scale, regardless of how they'd like to hand out grades.


The counter argument to that however is that some teachers scale the curve differently. Let me explain. If you have a 3.3 curve, and 40-60% of the class has to be at median, professors can follow two models. First, they can stack the median (give 60% median) and just give fewer lower grades but also fewer higher grades. Whereas other professors can give less median grades (40%) but have more high scores and more lower scores. In both cases, the distribution at median is the same and the curve is held, but in the latter professor, more people have chances at a 3.7 for instance. I know this happens at my t14 and some sections just got screwed versus others depending on how many professors you have 1L that are willing to give more high grades than others.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:10 pm

grades?? wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:forced curve is a questionable grading method anyway


Actually, a professor of mine gave a really convincing argument for it (the professor isn't American, so they were explaining why they prefer our system). People are sorted into law school sections at random. So if you happened to get sorted into a section that had really generous graders, you'd automatically get higher grades than someone who had the misfortune to be sorted into a section with professors who wanted to show how tough they were. The curve forces professors to stick to the same scale, regardless of how they'd like to hand out grades.


The counter argument to that however is that some teachers scale the curve differently. Let me explain. If you have a 3.3 curve, and 40-60% of the class has to be at median, professors can follow two models. First, they can stack the median (give 60% median) and just give fewer lower grades but also fewer higher grades. Whereas other professors can give less median grades (40%) but have more high scores and more lower scores. In both cases, the distribution at median is the same and the curve is held, but in the latter professor, more people have chances at a 3.7 for instance. I know this happens at my t14 and some sections just got screwed versus others depending on how many professors you have 1L that are willing to give more high grades than others.


Ah, I hadn't seen that version of the curve. Ours has a mandated range of grades for each tier. Professors only have about 2-3 students worth of wiggle room in each grade band.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby GreenEggs » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:11 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
grades?? wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:forced curve is a questionable grading method anyway


Actually, a professor of mine gave a really convincing argument for it (the professor isn't American, so they were explaining why they prefer our system). People are sorted into law school sections at random. So if you happened to get sorted into a section that had really generous graders, you'd automatically get higher grades than someone who had the misfortune to be sorted into a section with professors who wanted to show how tough they were. The curve forces professors to stick to the same scale, regardless of how they'd like to hand out grades.


The counter argument to that however is that some teachers scale the curve differently. Let me explain. If you have a 3.3 curve, and 40-60% of the class has to be at median, professors can follow two models. First, they can stack the median (give 60% median) and just give fewer lower grades but also fewer higher grades. Whereas other professors can give less median grades (40%) but have more high scores and more lower scores. In both cases, the distribution at median is the same and the curve is held, but in the latter professor, more people have chances at a 3.7 for instance. I know this happens at my t14 and some sections just got screwed versus others depending on how many professors you have 1L that are willing to give more high grades than others.


Ah, I hadn't seen that version of the curve. Ours has a mandated range of grades for each tier. Professors only have about 2-3 students worth of wiggle room in each grade band.


Yeah I think most schools have a curve that is composed of ranges
Last edited by GreenEggs on Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby grades?? » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:14 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
grades?? wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:forced curve is a questionable grading method anyway


Actually, a professor of mine gave a really convincing argument for it (the professor isn't American, so they were explaining why they prefer our system). People are sorted into law school sections at random. So if you happened to get sorted into a section that had really generous graders, you'd automatically get higher grades than someone who had the misfortune to be sorted into a section with professors who wanted to show how tough they were. The curve forces professors to stick to the same scale, regardless of how they'd like to hand out grades.


The counter argument to that however is that some teachers scale the curve differently. Let me explain. If you have a 3.3 curve, and 40-60% of the class has to be at median, professors can follow two models. First, they can stack the median (give 60% median) and just give fewer lower grades but also fewer higher grades. Whereas other professors can give less median grades (40%) but have more high scores and more lower scores. In both cases, the distribution at median is the same and the curve is held, but in the latter professor, more people have chances at a 3.7 for instance. I know this happens at my t14 and some sections just got screwed versus others depending on how many professors you have 1L that are willing to give more high grades than others.


Ah, I hadn't seen that version of the curve. Ours has a mandated range of grades for each tier. Professors only have about 2-3 students worth of wiggle room in each grade band.


Ah okay. Yeah ours are allowed to choose how they want to distribute the 40-60% at the range which lets them decide whether they want to just not give anyone shitty grades but also means no great grades either. So if you have a bunch of 1L professors that follow this, then other sections are at a material advantage because your section might only have 2 people at 3.7+, but their section might have 8 people at 3.7+. The flip side is that there are people with lower grades because of it, but it depends on the professor.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby Nonconsecutive » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:19 pm

grades?? wrote:Ah okay. Yeah ours are allowed to choose how they want to distribute the 40-60% at the range which lets them decide whether they want to just not give anyone shitty grades but also means no great grades either. So if you have a bunch of 1L professors that follow this, then other sections are at a material advantage because your section might only have 2 people at 3.7+, but their section might have 8 people at 3.7+. The flip side is that there are people with lower grades because of it, but it depends on the professor.


This has been my experience as well. There are a few known 1L professors that give out a large number of low grades (not just for 1L really, but across the entire law school), but balance it out with more higher grades. The result is that getting one of those professors in your section is bad news for the people who would otherwise have been median, but potentially good news for those who might of been median but get bumped up. If they are going to do curves, I think they need to remove this discretion (personally).

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby grades?? » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:46 pm

Nonconsecutive wrote:
grades?? wrote:Ah okay. Yeah ours are allowed to choose how they want to distribute the 40-60% at the range which lets them decide whether they want to just not give anyone shitty grades but also means no great grades either. So if you have a bunch of 1L professors that follow this, then other sections are at a material advantage because your section might only have 2 people at 3.7+, but their section might have 8 people at 3.7+. The flip side is that there are people with lower grades because of it, but it depends on the professor.


This has been my experience as well. There are a few known 1L professors that give out a large number of low grades (not just for 1L really, but across the entire law school), but balance it out with more higher grades. The result is that getting one of those professors in your section is bad news for the people who would otherwise have been median, but potentially good news for those who might of been median but get bumped up. If they are going to do curves, I think they need to remove this discretion (personally).


Agreed. You can't have a curve and then have discretion like this at a t14 school that gives advantages to some students over others. Defeats the point of a curve- to equalize everyone across professors and sections.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:16 pm

Nonconsecutive wrote:
grades?? wrote:Ah okay. Yeah ours are allowed to choose how they want to distribute the 40-60% at the range which lets them decide whether they want to just not give anyone shitty grades but also means no great grades either. So if you have a bunch of 1L professors that follow this, then other sections are at a material advantage because your section might only have 2 people at 3.7+, but their section might have 8 people at 3.7+. The flip side is that there are people with lower grades because of it, but it depends on the professor.


This has been my experience as well. There are a few known 1L professors that give out a large number of low grades (not just for 1L really, but across the entire law school), but balance it out with more higher grades. The result is that getting one of those professors in your section is bad news for the people who would otherwise have been median, but potentially good news for those who might of been median but get bumped up. If they are going to do curves, I think they need to remove this discretion (personally).

Yeah, my school had this issue. (Of course my school also curved all 2L and 3L courses including clinics and seminars, so we got screwed regardless.)

FWIW, I think grading on a curve is stupid pedagogically, but great if you want to rank people.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby WamBamThankYouMaam » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:26 pm

One of the schools that has accepted me so far curves to a 3.3 for 1L year (up to 20% A, up to 45% B, B+, A-, etc.), but then says "there is no upper level grade distribution." I'm assuming this means they don't curve 2L and 3L classes, but I want to know if that is out of the ordinary?

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby dabigchina » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:39 pm

WamBamThankYouMaam wrote:One of the schools that has accepted me so far curves to a 3.3 for 1L year (up to 20% A, up to 45% B, B+, A-, etc.), but then says "there is no upper level grade distribution." I'm assuming this means they don't curve 2L and 3L classes, but I want to know if that is out of the ordinary?

This is fairly standard, although uncommon. Most schools have at least a loose upper level curve that profs are expected to follow. In practice, some profs dgaf and just give everyone A's

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby Rigo » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:36 pm

I'd be wary at a Northeastern just because grades are such a huge part of differentiating yourself and at a lower ranked school you'll have to differentiate yourself since the median outcome isn't great.

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby linquest » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:59 pm

What do you mean by "shady" exactly? The school hasn't given out alpha-numeric grades since it re-opened in 1968. Yet it's maintained employment statistics sufficient to keep it in the Tier 2 ranking for about the last 20 years, so evidently employers (including judges, BigLaw firms, PI orgs, and gov't agencies) have figured out a way to distinguish students. As someone involved in gov't hiring/recruiting from Northeastern as well as traditional law schools, I can tell you that the narrative evaluations provide much more information about the specific strengths/weaknesses of a student than a singular alpha/numeric grade. And yes, the co-op program does help to distinguish students further as well.

You can read more about the evaluation system and why the school uses it here-
http://www.northeastern.edu/law/admission/jd/faqs/first-year.html#I%20heard%20that%20Northeastern%20doesn't%20have%20grades
And you can see how some gov't agencies like DOJ (which hired a grad in the last Honors Program class) looks at Northeastern transcripts-
http://www.northeastern.edu/law/pdfs/ca ... gram_T.pdf

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby pancakes3 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:09 pm

linquest wrote:What do you mean by "shady" exactly? The school hasn't given out alpha-numeric grades since it re-opened in 1968. Yet it's maintained employment statistics sufficient to keep it in the Tier 2 ranking for about the last 20 years, so evidently employers (including judges, BigLaw firms, PI orgs, and gov't agencies) have figured out a way to distinguish students. As someone involved in gov't hiring/recruiting from Northeastern as well as traditional law schools, I can tell you that the narrative evaluations provide much more information about the specific strengths/weaknesses of a student than a singular alpha/numeric grade. And yes, the co-op program does help to distinguish students further as well.

You can read more about the evaluation system and why the school uses it here-
http://www.northeastern.edu/law/admission/jd/faqs/first-year.html#I%20heard%20that%20Northeastern%20doesn't%20have%20grades
And you can see how some gov't agencies like DOJ (which hired a grad in the last Honors Program class) looks at Northeastern transcripts-
http://www.northeastern.edu/law/pdfs/ca ... gram_T.pdf


Professor Breckenridge will review your evaluations and provide you with a one-word
adjective which describes overall performance in each class. These "Dean-approved"
adjectives will be e-mailed to you by our office in sufficient time for you to enter this
information and complete the electronic application by September 8, 2009.


v curious as to the adjectives

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Re: Is it shady for law school not to give grades?

Postby linquest » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:54 pm

I graduated before the "new system" of allowing Honors/High Honors designations in upper-level courses so I don't know what the adjectives might be now. If I remember correctly, the "buzzwords" were: fail, marginal pass, pass, good, excellent. The catch was there were no official rules on how professors were to use the buzzwords or how much of each buzzword you could give out in any given class, so you couldn't just translate them into grades. Some professors might not use buzzwords at all, some might use multiple buzzwords to describe different parts of the exam or for tests in addition to briefs or projects. I don't know if they have any rules now on those adjectives or buzzwords.



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