This Week in Amherst History: September 18, 1967

“[The faculty chose] to reduce the number of categories into which a student can be placed, to get away from the fine distinctions between 83 and 84 and set up a single value for failure,” said Dean of the Faculty Prosser Gifford. “There are at present 59 different ways of failing.”

“The grades earned under the old grading system stand and will not be affected by the new grading system,” said Registrar Robert F. Grosse. Students’ cumulative averages, however, were converted to conform to the faculty vote. An unintended result of the conversion was that it was possible for a student to get a cumulative average for which there was no corresponding letter grade.

The faculty also voted to only report grades of D or F on the mid-semester grade report, in essence eliminating mid-semester grades. The faculty had not voted on the method for determining the student’s rank-in-class.

Because the grading scheme changed while they were at Amherst, transcripts of students in the classes of 1968 through 1970, had a description of “both grading systems, the course grades as given under each grading system and an explanation of the approximations made in the conversions of the cumulative averages,” The Student reported.