Since the fall term of 2004, Princeton’s grading policy has set a common grading standard for the University, under which As (A+, A, A-) shall account for less than 35% of the grades given in undergraduate courses and less than 55% of the grades given in junior and senior independent work. Our goal with this policy is to provide fair and consistent standards across the University.
The Faculty has agreed that grades in the A range signify work that is exceptional (A+), outstanding (A) or excellent (A-). Grades in the B range signify work that is very good (B+), good (B) or more than adequate (B-). Grades in the C range signify work that is acceptable in varying degrees.
Please note that we are not saying that 35% is a hard cut-off or that only 35% of students in each course will receive a grade in the A-range. Rather, we expect that if faculty members make rigorous evaluative judgments about the quality of student work, then over time, on average, across the University, about 35% of undergraduate students will be doing course work of the highest quality, and 55% will be doing independent work of the highest quality.
We want to emphasize that any student who does A-range work should receive an A-range grade. Under no circumstances should any faculty member fail to give an A to a student who deserves it. Consequently, faculty members who cite the grading policy as a reason for not awarding an A grade are misrepresenting the policy.
The Faculty Committee on Grading monitors the distribution of grades and reports results to departments and programs each fall. The committee asks that chairs review the grading distributions in their departments or programs and use the data as the basis for meaningful discussions of grading practices. In addition, the committee works with the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and other colleagues to assist faculty and to foster broader conversations about the evaluation of student work.
In October 2013, President Eisgruber charged a new faculty committee with reviewing the University's policies for how student work is evaluated. The Ad Hoc Committee to Review Policies Regarding Assessment and Grading will explore whether the University's assessment guidelines remain effective and appropriate.