Our Faculty Senate has upheld the proposition that outstanding academic achievement shouldn’t be rewarded, and that students receiving an A+ should receive the same level of weight as a student receiving an A. However a student receiving an A- should be penalized for not being in the same category as other A students, and should receive .33 less quality points on their GPA.
This situation only applies to A grades. Because a student receiving a B can be given credit for a plus just as easily as harmed by a minus. The only situation where a plus grade isn’t rewarded is the A+, where despite the extra effort the student still only receives 4.0 quality points per credit.
So when did we as a society no longer reward outstanding effort? When did going above and beyond the call of duty become not worthy of higher designation? And more importantly, why should students be able to get hurt for a minus, but not aided by a plus?
So let’s apply this logic to other areas of life. When the government runs a surplus and brings in extra money from tax revenue or being extra efficient, that money shouldn’t be spent. Why should we reward a government for going beyond the call of duty?
I guess getting the absolute most bang for your buck really shouldn’t matter. When college football and basketball polls are released during the season, absolutely no consideration should be granted for the margin of victory. Whether you win by 40 or four, the way in which you handled your opponent shouldn’t matter. But if somehow you don’t get that win, that of course should hurt you.
Obviously the examples above aren’t a perfect representation of what’s happening here, but it gives you an idea of the logic used. Some faculty expressed that students might end up with a GPA over a 4.0, and this could be a problem with consistency when applying to graduate schools and the like. Somehow I think the students who end up with this problem are not going to have too tough a time getting accepted to grad school.
One way to handle this is to cap the GPA you can receive at 4.0, but allow the extra quality points from an A+ to balance out the occasional A- or B+. That way you can still reward extra effort, but not harm a student’s post-undergraduate career.
But the best solution is simple. An A is an A is an A. No plus or minus for A grades at all. That way the plus/minus system rewards and harms marginal grades on either side of the spectrum, but doesn’t harm an A without rewarding it. All I’m asking is that if an academic penalty is put in place on the students, a correlating reward should be offered as well.
This decision is up to the Faculty Senate, who seem pretty enamored with plus/minus on the whole.
The students have no voice in this decision, and only can lobby, arm-twist, yell, scream, protest and bother professors who serve on that body until some changes can be made. Is this a life or death issue? No. But it is about fairness, and changes need to be made before this grading scale becomes the wholly accepted standard of this university.
Collin Sherwin is a senior majoring in political email@example.com