The Academic Senate has formed an ad-hoc committee to explore whether the college should switch its grading scale from a full letter grading system to a plus/minus grading system.
The measure, proposed by committee co-chairs, history Instructor Susie Ling and biology Instructor Debra Folsom, is said to grade students on a more accurate scale as opposed to the current system.
â€œBottom line: it helps the B+ and C+ students and hurts the A- and B- students,â€ Ling explained in an email.
In the current system, in a class that is graded on a 100-point scale, if one student receives 89 points and another receives only 83 points then both students would receive a B as their final grade, a 3.0 grade point average in the class.
â€œIn disciplines where letter grades are often given to assignments in lieu of “points,” a diligent student who has earned a borderline C+/B- (2.5) is often given the higher, “B” grade, while another diligent student, who has earnedÂ a solid B+ (3.3) is bumped down to a B (3.0).Â There is a .8 (almost an entire grade point) difference between the quality level ofÂ theÂ student work.â€ stated Diana Savas, a member of the ad-hoc committee on plus/minus grading, in an email.
In the proposed plus/minus system, the student with 89 points would receive a B+ grade, a 3.7 GPA, whereas the student with 83 points might receive a B- grade, a 2.7 GPA. However the proposal states that students receiving an A+ grade will not receive any additional points and earn a 4.0 GPA just like A students. State regulations also prohibit the use of a C- grade.
â€œThe “whole grade” systemÂ does not recognize this large discrepancy in quality level, while the plus/minus system allows the professor to raise the C+/B- to a B- (2.7), while accurately reporting the much higher quality levelÂ of work done by the B+ (3.3) student.Â The .6 difference is significant–more thanÂ half a letter grade.
The scenario is the same, or even more critical, when we consider the student who earns a D+/C-, who will be bumped up to a “C” and the student with the solid C+ work, who is bumped down to the “C” grade.â€ Said Savas. â€œWith the ”whole grade” system, the students with the borderline or weaker grades (including those who are a hair’s breathe away fromÂ failing) benefit, while the students with the better quality work get penalized.Â The plus/minus grading more accurately reflects the real quality-level of the student’s work.â€
â€œI want to support the B+ student,â€ said Ling. â€œFor years I felt that if you got a B+ and he got a B- you both get a B on the record, and that is not fair. I know the difference between 82 and 83, and to only give [an] A, B, or C, is just really unfair to the student.â€
According to an informational email sent out to adjunct faculty regarding the measure, seven of the eight undergraduate UC schools and 21 of 23 CSUs use a plus/minus grading system. It is hoped that by adopting this new grading system that it will help make transferring studentsâ€™ transition into these four-year universities easier.
The Academic Senate has sent out a survey to faculty asking whether or not they approve of the proposal. Should it receive a majority approval, the Senate will bring it up for a vote later in the semester. The Associated Students will discuss its position on the issue at their meeting on Jan. 23.