What are Finals Worth?


(Ed. Note--The Crimson does, not necessarily endores opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be withheld.)

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

I have read the editorial in this morning's "Crimson", relating to the method of grading in Government I and the credit for the final examination in that course. I wish to assure you that I am grateful for constructive criticism, from whatever source it may come, and hope I do not undervalue the suggestions which you make for the better management of Government I.

The problem of grading, however, is not easy. At the beginning of the second half-year I abandoned the decimal system of grading formerly used in Government I and adopted the method of grading by letter which is in use in History I and Economics A. That method has been followed throughout the second half-year and will be followed hereafter. The writer of your editorial seems to have overlooked this change, but I am glad to know that it has your approval.

But this change does not solve the problem. It is still necessary to determine the relative weight of weekly papers and midyear and final examinations. In order to arrive at a correct judgment upon the total record in a course, a value must be assigned to each of its components. Unless the final grade is to be no more than a rough approximation of the true value of the work done in a course, a unit of measurement must be adopted and all letter grades recomputed in terms of that unit. For example, how much weight should be assigned to the final examination and to the weekly papers, respectively?

Your editorial assumes that the final examination counts for practically nothing. In fact our practice is to count it as the equivalent of nine weekly papers. There is no more reason for saying that the final examination counts for practically nothing than for saying that nine weekly papers count for practically nothing. The real question is this: is the final examination fairly weighted as equivalent to nine weekly papers? If you think that either more or less weight should be assigned to the final examination than is assigned under our present practice, I should be glad to know what change you deem desirable, together with your reasons. Sincerely yours,   A. N. Holcombe