Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reed College's unconventional grading policy

I was prompted to investigate Reed College's grading policies after I  saw this on a banner ad.
There are no grades on tests at Reed College if students get over a 'C'.
According to their website, students are not informed of any grades 'C' or higher unless they specifically request them.
Reed College encourages students to measure academic achievement by intellectual growth and by self-assessment of their grasp of course material. The college does not wish to divide students by labels of achievement. A conventional letter grade for each course is recorded for every student, but the registrar's office does not distribute grades to students, provided that work continues at satisfactory (C or higher) levels. Unsatisfactory grades are reported directly to the student and the student's adviser. Students may obtain their grades from their advisers or the course instructor if they wish to do so. Students may also order a transcript from the registrar's office.
Reed has the reputation of being a rigorous but laid back school, with a collegial rather than competitive atmosphere.  It is also known for an unusually relaxed attitude towards drug use by its students, but exactly how different it is compared to many other schools is difficult to know.


  1. Having gone to Bennington, where there were NO grades (or requirements), I can tell from experience that it made me feel lost and unsafe. I wanted clarity. I felt like everyone knew what was going on except for me.

  2. I'd want grades, too. There must be a "type" of student who doesn't care much about grades, and these schools work well for them.

  3. Yes, they're called students who don't get good ones. ;)

  4. Remember that blog post about useless liberal arts degrees as social markers for the upper class? Reed is a shining example of a social marker school.

  5. Bonnie, I didn't know that about Reed. I keep hearing how it's so rigorous, but I never really looked at it closely.