Grading scale change shot down

The Student Government proposal to amend the current grading scale was shot down at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting. The amendment would have made an “A+” grade worth 4.33 quality points instead of 4.00.

The proposal was brought up at last month’s Faculty Senate meeting, but it was tabled due to time constraints.

The proposal had passed through the Faculty Senate Executive Committee favorably, but that wasn’t enough to get it passed by the entire Faculty Senate.

SG senate President Pro Tempore Hampton Dohrman presented the proposal. Despite starting his presentation last month, he essentially just answered questions on Tuesday.

From the very beginning things did not look good for the proposal.

First, there was a proposed amendment to the proposal lingering from last month’s meeting. Senator Gregory Paveza suggested the proposal, saying there would be no more “A+” grade at all.

Though his proposal was ruled out of order, it seemed to set the tone for the rest of the debate, during which no senators spoke in favor of the proposal.

Next, a statement issued by the College of Arts and Sciences was read to the Senate.

“The CAS Advisory Council unanimously recommends that the ‘A+’ be retained as a grade on student transcripts to recognize an accomplishment of note, but also unanimously recommends that an ‘A+’ carries the weight of 4.0.”

That led to Senator Harry Vanden proposing an amendment to SG’s proposal, suggesting, instead of changing the number of quality points given for an “A+”, to add an asterisk that would be placed next to an “A+” on a transcript to “recognize an ‘A+’ as a significant indication of merit.”

That proposed amendment was also ruled out of order because it would have made substantive changes to SG’s original proposal.

Senator James Strange later made the point that the “+” on an “A+” should, for all intents and purposes, be the “asterisk” Vanden suggested.

“The graduate director (Ken Killebrew) of our school (Mass Communication) pointed out that a great many universities, including USF, will actually punish students who come in with 4.33’s,” Senator Randy Miller said. “They will round down the ‘A+’ to 4.0 and make a standard ‘A’ a 3.67.”

Immediately following a verbal vote called by Senate President Susan Greenbaum, in which the proposal was defeated, Senator Steve Permuth had some kind words for Dohrman and SG members who had spent months working on changes in the grading scale.

He pointed out that the proposal they had voted on was one of the most well-researched and organized proposals SG had ever presented to the Faculty Senate.

Hampton was disappointed about the results but impressed at how seriously the Faculty Senate took the proposal.

“I was actually pleased to see that so many of the members took this issue back to their respective councils and actually sought further input,” Dohrman said. “That says something for how we brought it … it’s not as disheartening as it would have been if they just voted no because they don’t like it.”

Grading scale proposals have been brought to the Faculty Senate by SG and shot down before.

“The Senate has been consistent in its opposition to adding quality points to ‘A+’,” Paveza said after the meeting.

After the meeting senators also discussed how unimportant a grade-point average can be in applying to graduate schools.

“I was the head of our admissions committee for years and I never paid attention to GPA’s unless they were stunningly bad,” Greenbaum said. “It’s really the letters and the statements that I looked at, and then the GRE scores.”