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Student Government debates plus/minus grading system

The plus-minus grading scheme underwent scrutiny by the Student Government at the senate meeting on Tuesday night. One of the highlights of the meeting was resolution six, a motion that would open the door to the ratification of the current grading scale.

Resolution six, as it was proposed Tuesday night, recognized that instructors who teach different sections of the same course are not required to unify the grading scale. Such differences often cause students to discriminate against instructors based on their personal grading policies. Resolution six would compel instructors that are teaching different sections of the same course “to be accountable in using the same grading-scale policy for all course sections, thus eliminating a bias towards professors or specific sections,” the resolution stated.

The resolution was was passed and Hoffman said the resolution will be going through the appropriate channels to take to the Faculty Senate.

Frank Harrison, student concerns and activities committee chairman, said that the resolution is just the beginning. Harrison is working with SG senator David Hoffman to convince a council of faculty members to completely change the grading scale in a manner that would appease instructors while making the plus-minus scale beneficial to students.

“Students often feel punished by a ‘minus’ grade,” said Harrison. “And the proposed grading scale allows teachers to distinguish between an exemplary student and average one without attacking students’ GPAs.”

Originally, the senate contemplated a grading scale similar to the one used at the University of Florida, where students can earn pluses but not minuses. However, that scale allows for grade inflation, according to Harrison, which hurts instructors.

The projected grading scale, according to Hoffman, would narrow the difference in either direction between a “plus” grade and an average grade to .2 points, down from its original .33 points. A “B plus,” for example, would change from a 3.33 to a 3.2, and a “B minus” from a 2.67 to a 2.8. If the Faculty Senate does not approve that change, Hoffman also moved to add quality points for an “A plus,” which would reward students who achieve a superior grade. As the grading scale stands now, the quality points would bring an “A plus” to a 4.33, or in the proposed grading scale, a 4.2.

“If a student receives all ‘A’s and one ‘B plus’, there is no way to redeem himself to a 4.0 GPA,” Harrison said, “… but given quality points, that student could earn back his perfect GPA with an A+.”

Hoffman and Harrison will formally present the proposed grading scale to the Faculty Senate next month.