« on: May 04, 2007, 09:10:51 AM »
there are different rationales for purges and the curve, and they don't usually go together. almost every school curves, but only some schools purge. some schools - typically lower-ranked ones - purge more, others purge less or none. i believe the rationale is that lower-ranked schools purge in order to get rid of the students they don't think will do well, while higher-ranked schools don't purge because they expect even students near the bottom of the class to do well. the percentage of students who leave for academic reasons, which schools report to the ABA, gives you an idea of the extent of the purging (purgery?).
the curve has a related but distinct rationale. it lets employers compare students within and across schools. employers know that the top students at lower-ranked schools are comparable to average students at higher-ranked schools, while average and lower-ranked students are not. lower-ranked schools therefore need to curve so that their top students have a chance at the good jobs. higher-ranked schools rank for separating the elite from the super-elite for things like academic jobs and clerkships in higher courts.
i think there are a couple of schools that don't grade or rank - i know northeastern doesn't. it gets away with it because of northeastern's co-op program, and because employers in new england know how to read into the written evaluations that are provided in lieu of grade and rank. northeastern doesn't place so well outside of he northeast, and its US news ranking probably suffers as a result.