Students see pluses, minuses in new system

Lindsey Reed

Professors may see it as a better grading tool, but some students are saying a new grading system suggested in University Senate could hurt the grade point averages they’ve worked hard to maintain.

Student Government Association members expressed concern over the possibility of a plus/minus grading system at their meeting on Tuesday.

“My own personal position is that plus and minus grading could hurt students here at Western,” SGA president John Bradley said. “I think there are some long-term benefits to the students, but they are very long-term, and I plan on opposing it.”

The idea of the plus/minus grading system was presented by economics professor Brian Strow during a senate meeting Sept. 18.

Strow said the plus/minus system would be a better grading tool because it could provide a more accurate assessment of how well a student performs in class.

Hopkinsville senior Natalie Croney, chair of the SGA Academic Affairs committee, said her committee would soon be sending a questionnaire out to students regarding their opinions on a new grading policy.

SGA also plans to invite Strow to meet with students to discuss the system, Bradley said.

Bradley said he met with the Board of Student Body Presidents over the weekend at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights.

“I was told by all the student body presidents to fight plus and minus grading as much as I could,” he said.

Bradley said Eastern Kentucky University’s student government president told him that their plus/minus system may have hurt the top 4 percent of students at the university.

Eastern professor John Harley, said he was a member of their Faculty Senate when a plus/minus system went into effect last fall at the university.

Harley said the adopted plus/minus system was dropped for the spring semester.

“There was so much controversy that it was dropped,” Harley said. “The students overwhelmingly did not like it.”

Eastern’s provost could not be reached for comment.

Strow said he was unfamiliar with Eastern’s use of the grading system and the decision to drop it.

Louisville senior Troy Ransdell, SGA Chief Justice, said he worries that students with good GPAs may be hurt the most by the plus/minus system.

“You’re penalizing those who score the best,” Ransdell said.

Under the grading system Strow is proposing, a student with an A-minus would get a 3.7 GPA.

Strow said students currently with a 4.0 would not necessarily be hurt by the plus/minus system.

Ransdell said he thinks the university has higher priorities than a new grading system, such as filling needed faculty positions.

“I think this is a minor problem right now,” he said.

Ransdell said applying the system to incoming freshmen would also cause problems because freshmen could get a different GPA than upperclassmen in the same class.

Croney said a plus/minus system would affect students with borderline grades the most.

“It helps as much as it hinders,” she said. “We represent the students, so whatever the students lean toward, we will form a position.”

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]