Yesterday Above the Law broke the story of one of the biggest grading SNAFUs of all time. Fordham law professor Robert Kaczorowski used for his con law exam questions that had been written by another professor, and made public. Apparently the answers had also been made public, and so students using that other professor's exam as a study aid gained a huge advantage over their peers. The school's initial response was to allow students to take a new exam and accept the higher of the two grades, but this plan was quickly scrapped and replaced by the chance to have the grade replaced with the average of the two test grades, or the average of grades from other classes that semester.
And Fordham just said fuck it. Because of the grading irregularities, students could not use their con law grade in calculating their GPA or class rank. Vice Dean Shiela Foster explains:
We (the administration) understand that this is not ideal, and may even seem unfair, from your perspective. However, we have sought to balance the equities involved, including the fact that other Constitutional Law sections are obligated under our rules to adhere to the mandatory curve.
Balance the equities my aching ass! If you wanted to balance the equities, you'd grab Kaczorowski by the ear, drag him to his office, and force him to write a new exam, administer it to the students, and have that one grade be the basis of the class grade. Sure, it might be unfair to students who did well on the first exam, but since it's graded on a curve, the students doing the best will largely be those who had the exam answers before hand, so it's still a pretty equitable outcome.
But what Foster means by balancing the equities is that she had to find a solution that would require no extra effort on the part of the faculty or staff, especially the faculty member whose screw up caused the whole problem. The balancing test goes something like this:
1. Does anyone involved have tenure?
End of balancing test.
On ATL a commenter asked if this violates the ABA standards. At first we thought this a laughable idea, because the ABA standards are incredibly lax. But, then decided that the balance of the equities required at least taking a look. Standard 301 provides:
(a) A law school shall maintain an educational program that prepares its students for admission to the bar, and effective and responsible participation in the legal profession.
(b) A law school shall ensure that all students have reasonably comparable opportunities to take advantage of the school’s educational program, co-curricular programs, and other educational benefits.
And Interpretation 301-3:
Among the factors to be considered in assessing the extent to which a law school complies with this Standard are the rigor of its academic program, including its assessment of student performance, and the bar passage rates of its graduates.
The case against the professor: Being graded in a single class, as well as having a cumulative GPA (which is used by the school in awarding certain honors) is an educational benefit, and the grading scheme in this class is far from reasonably comparative to other con law sections. Professors giving different exams is reasonable; a professor giving no graded exam is not.
The case for the professor: The grade isn't part of your education, and Interpretation 301-3 is meant to clarify 301(a) not 301(b).
Against the prof: Standard 401 provides:
A law school shall have a faculty whose qualifications and experience are appropriate to the stated mission of the law school and to maintaining a program of legal education consistent with the requirements of Standards 301 and 302. The faculty shall possess a high degree of competence, as demonstrated by its education, experience in teaching or practice, teaching effectiveness, and scholarly research and writing.
For the prof: This is a question of laziness, not competence. I can write my own exam. I chose not to.
Closing argument against the prof: Look at your stupid fucking face!
Closing argument for the prof: TTTenure secure!