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Student grading method gets a bad grade

Princeton University was seeking to thwart grade inflation when it decided in 2004 to limit the percentage of students in any given course who could receive an A.

Now the Ivy League institution is reconsidering the policy, having found that stellar prospects decline enrollment, lest their chances for graduate school suffer along with their grade point averages. Many Princeton students describe the grading targets as an unfair quota system that deprives them of rightful recognition. Once-collegial courses turned into shark tanks, with classmates unwilling to help each other, or worse, sabotaging one another’s work.

GPAs — whether in high school or college — seriously affect students’ lives, signaling not only their academic progress but also affecting where they get into college or graduate school and even how much financial aid they receive (merit-aid offers are generally tied to standardized test scores and GPAs).

Princeton’s failed experiment is another reminder to tread carefully when revamping report cards — the stakes for students are awfully high.

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