Plus/minus grading system raises concerns

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    As they have been for years, several debate-worthy issues, such as parking, construction and tuition, are topics of discussion among students, faculty and staff. But the announcement of the future implementation of a new grading system at last week’s Faculty Senate meeting has added yet another controversial subject to the list. David Grant, professor and chair of the religion department, explained the structure and inner workings of the plus/minus grading system, which will be implemented in fall 2007, at the meeting.

    As reported in Wednesday’s Skiff, many SGA members were concerned about the effect the new grading system will have on students’ grades, the lack of opportunity for students to vote on how grading will be conducted and the weight that final exams will carry as a result of the plus/minus system.

    Rather than dwelling on the possibility that they may have to study for finals or take more than 30 minutes out of the morning to study for a test, students should concentrate on whether their true academic performances shine through the current system.

    Grant said the current system “masks the true performance of students.”

    “For instance, if you are a student who gets an 88, just below that A mark, the student who gets even a 79.5 receives the same grade as the student who scored an 88,” he said. “How is that fair?”

    Another aspect of the new grading system that students should be wary of is that instructors will have the freedom to implement it or reject it. As a result, two students who have the same academic performance in the same course with different teachers may receive different grades.

    Grant agreed this is a valid concern.

    “We are still working out the kinks with this grading system,” Grant said. “Perhaps departments that offer different classes of the same course will more likely have to make an official declare over the entire department about how they will grade.”

    Editor in chief Amy Hallford for the editorial board