+/- Grading

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One part of academic quality is accurately measuring and reporting student performance in the classroom. Increasing grading accuracy isn’t the only way to improve academic quality at WKU, but it is a good place to start.

Nineteen out of the top twenty schools in the nation (as reported by US News and World Report) have some sort of +/- grading system. A straight A,B,C,D,F grading scale is now in the minority as a collegiate grading system at four year colleges and universities in the US. There is no doubt that the national trend in higher education has been toward +/- systems.

Schools that have adopted such grading systems have reported that under the +/- system, grades more accurately assess student performance. These schools have also reported anecdotal evidence that such grading systems increase student effort. Furthermore, they report no evidence that a +/- grading system lowers a school’s average GPA.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Quality has proposed that WKU implement a grading system, which adds plusses and minuses to students’ transcripts, when appropriate, without altering their GPAs.

The faculty members of the committee unanimously voted in favor of this proposal so that data on the +/- system could be collected. Following two years of data collection, the campus community will have a better understanding of the impact of +/- grading.

In the 1980’s WKU’s student government proposed moving toward a +/- grading system. It’s now time for the campus community to embrace the +/- grading trial.

Brian Strow

Assistant Professor of Economics, WKU

Bowling Green, KY

270 745-7082

[email protected]