Grading system continues to trouble students and faculty

Sarah White

Students could be penalized when applying to graduate schools or fellowships because UT does not offer an A+ grade said Bhargav Srinivasan, a finance senior and Senate of College Councils member.

The Senate of College Councils met with the President’s Student Advisory Council at the first ever SenaTea to share refreshments and discuss the failures and successes of the plus/minus grading system at UT on Tuesday at the Union.

At the event, Srinivasan said adding an A+ grade worth 4.33 GPA points to the plus/minus system at UT might help students compete for admission to any program that has a strict GPA requirement.

“Without an A+ option students can lose the incentive to go the extra mile,” he said.

Carisa Nitsche, Senate of College Councils president, said the motion for a plus/minus grading system was implemented in 2009 despite some opposition when it was brought before the faculty council.

“All of the students with a vote were against the system, and a small and not very vocal minority in the faculty council [also] voted against it,” Nitsche said.

Meredith McGraw, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee within the President’s Student Advisory Council, said PSAC has recently held meetings to discuss some of the failures of the plus/minus grading system.

“The majority of the PSAC discussion has been in reference to the inconsistencies in the system. It’s just so irregular and so haphazard,” McGraw said.

She said few university-wide regulations have been implemented to address this issue.

“Professors are not required to use plus/minus grading,” McGraw said. “Also, for some departments a student needs a C to receive credit for a course. For others they only need a C or a D+.”

She said some departments require that professors use the plus/minus system, but others leave it to the instructor’s discretion.

The inconsistencies make it difficult for faculty and departments to communicate their expectations to students because there is no clearly defined standard she said.

“The University needs more standardization when it comes to which professors use which systems and what actually constitutes each grade,” McGraw said.

She said this would be a difficult task to accomplish without compromising the academic freedom of professors and departments at UT, but these concerns need to be addressed.

Nitsche said it was important for the issues discussed in the meeting to be brought before the University faculty to resolve issues of inconsistency within the system and the absence of an A+ grade.

“A large part of this [debate] will be in faculty council. It will be the faculty that we need to talk to,” Nitsche said.