Value-added grading scale system could be enacted this fall

Taylor Harrison

Students and faculty who are excited about the value-added “plus” grading system might only have to wait until the fall semester.

Although there are currently two different value-added grading system proposal ideas being looked at by the provost and University Senate, they don’t vary greatly.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the report the Academic Quality Committee gave at the senate meeting only has a few differences from his original proposal.

“I’m confident we will have this resolved during the spring and we can implement the system in the fall,” Emslie said.

One difference in the proposals is the addition of a D+ distinction in the report at the senate meeting, while Emslie’s proposal only included B+ and C+ grades.

Another is that the report at the meeting recommended that those grades would carry quality point ratings of 3.3, 2.3 and 1.3, respectively, while Emslie’s scale proposed quality point ratings of 3.5 and 2.5 for B+ and C+ grades, respectively.

Various professors and department heads at WKU said they believe a new “plus” grading scale could be beneficial.

However, Robert Dietle, history department head and professor, said he wishes that minus grades would also be included in the system.

“I would prefer a plus and minus, but given that the faculty weren’t able to get approval of a plus-minus system several years ago…plusses are better than nothing, because I do think it gives us a more nuanced grading system,” Dietle said.

He said without the minuses, you can’t make as big of a distinction regarding grades.

Dietle hopes these added bonus “plus” grades will incentivize students to work harder, and he thinks this new system could be beneficial to both students and faculty.

“I think it would benefit students because those students who are doing very well, but they haven’t attained that next highest grade, will still get some reward for their extra efforts and I think faculty would appreciate having the chance to give grades that more accurately reflect the effort the student has put in,” he said.

Cathleen Webb, chemistry department head and professor, said she thinks the new system is fine.

She said she comes from an institution, before she was at WKU, that had a plus and minus grading scale so she is used to a finer grading system than just A, B, C and D.

She said she isn’t sure why the minus distinction isn’t included, except to prevent students from being upset that if they receive a B- in the new system, they would have received a B in the previous system. If they receive a B+, that’s likely an improvement because they might not have quite received an A in the old system, she said.

Overall, she doesn’t think the new grading system will largely change how grading works.

“It probably isn’t going to make a large statistical difference in the average grade issued at Western,” she said.