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Q: History of grading at Harvard and use of demerits ( No Answer,   2 Comments )
Subject: History of grading at Harvard and use of demerits
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: ken13-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 31 Aug 2006 18:33 PDT
Expires: 30 Sep 2006 18:33 PDT
Question ID: 761261
I have a big problem with K-12 school districts that have demerit
systems where accumulation of demerits (demerits may come from
tardiness or other bad behaviors) affects the academic grade of a
student.  No university or college that I know has such a system. 
Sure, if you behave badly enough you may be (and should be)
kicked-out, but your academic grade is not reduced.

I seem to recall that Harvard historically had demerits that affected
student grades (for things like sleeping on a bench, walking on the
lawn, etc.), but recognized that this was not wise and changed their
system.  This then led the way for other universities to do the same. 
What I want for a 5 star grade but with no tip is:

* A reference to the history of grading at Harvard where their
abolition of demerits is described

For five stars and a tip I want the above and

* References to academic (education) literature that describes the
tying of behavioral demerits and academic grades as a bad thing

I look forward to an answer (but if you walk across the lawn your
grade goes down ;-)).
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: History of grading at Harvard and use of demerits
From: myoarin-ga on 01 Sep 2006 06:38 PDT
Yes, apparently there once was a demerit system at Harvard, in Thoreau's day:

This site may also be of interest, but I believe the expressions
"merits and demerits" at the top of page 3 does not refer to what you
are asking about.
Does the article have enough depth to assume that a demerit system
would have been mentioned?  Maybe the books in the bibliography could

I would speculate that such a system went out after the Civil War or
in President Eliot's day, who was reformer.  It certainly did not
exist 50 years ago.
Subject: Re: History of grading at Harvard and use of demerits
From: ken13-ga on 02 Sep 2006 06:28 PDT
Dear myoarin, your comment is helpful.  The books in the bibliography
of the Indiana history (which I did know about) may be useful... our
library has the history of grading at Harvard book.  The issue that I
want to fight is the connection of behavior to academic grades. 
Specifically, that tardiness should result in a decreased grade.

The Wikipedia entry on Eliot is very informative.  Today university
presidents serve for only very short tenures.  Summers is a an
example... the history books may yet judge him well, however.

Thanks again!

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