CUE Proposal Is Necessary


While the staff feigns concern about tampant grade inflation, we believe that the current proposal before the Committee on Undergraduate Education is an excellent stop-gap measure.

Obviously, the ultimate solution to grade inflation requires standardizing the way grades are doled out throughout the University, so that certain departments and certain courses are not more generous than others.

Adding more information about Harvard students' classes is certainly not a final or perfect solution to the pervasive problem of grade inflation.

Yet, since the transcript is the only document which purports to represent a student's individual academic achievement--and numbers and symbols are used to convey such achievement more comprehensive information is crucial.

Including the mean grade on the transcript will allow everyone to determine quite easily whether your "B+" is above or below average in a particular course, which will in turn acknowledge your actual achievement or lack thereof.

Including the size of the class is important to ensure that everyone will be able to determine how much weight should be accorded to the mean grade. The average grade in a 300-person course is statistically significant, while it is not very significant in a seminar with only six people.

And if the staff really believes that additional information on the transcript will somehow tip off prospective employers and graduate school admissions committees as to the reality of grade inflation at Harvard (and other elite colleges), they are little out of touch with reality. We don't mean to reveal unsavory secrets, but the word is out: Harvard inflates its grades.

Instead of attempting to conceal this little bit of public knowledge, the University has a duty to its students, to its faculty and to itself as an institution to address the current problem seriously and swiftly.

Improving our transcripts should just be the first step.