A better grading system is possible

Eric R. Pianka

Integrative biology professor Mike Singer attempts to defend grade inflation in his guest column published in The Daily Texan on Nov. 23 by labeling those of us who do uphold academic standards as “grade deflators.” Nonsense — his argument is vacuous and without merit. While Singer’s policy of handing out easy A’s and B’s to more than half of his students may make him popular, it is an insult to good students and to higher education. Students who excel deserve to be recognized for their effort and understanding. By giving out so many high-letter grades, professors such as Singer dilute everybody’s GPA and mask the true performance of our best and brightest.

Our superior students deserve more. An A should reflect excellence, not mere attendance. Such grade inflators are succumbing to the all-too-easy temptation to please and, in the process, are allowing academic standards to fall.

The long-overdue adoption of the plus-minus system helped, but a more continuous numeric grading system would be far superior. Students should receive a grade that reflects their rank and actual performance relative to classmates rather than get lumped into crude letter-grade categories. Implementation of a numerical grading system would help control the temptation to please and would erase the dichotomy of grade inflation versus grade deflation.

Eric R. Pianka
Integrative biology professor