As CSU has looked to perfect its grading system for more than 10 years, student government officials started going to students this semester to find out what they think is best.
Increasing controversy about CSU’s grading scheme among Faculty Council members in 2007 resulted in a vote to strike C-, D+ and D- from its grading scale as some felt C- fostered inconsistency for students who were taking the same class in different sections.
If two students took the same class in different sections, one with a teacher who used the C- and the other with a teacher who didn’t, and they both received a 71 percent, the student with the teacher who used the minus would fail, while the other would pass, resulting in different grade point averages.
The new policy went into effect last semester, but CSU is still working out the kinks, and one student leader said that while the system is improving, there are still bricks that are missing from the wall.
“(Currently) I think it’s great . C- would reduce ambiguity in pre-requisite classes,” said Trevor Trout, the former vice president for the Associated Students of CSU. “It also gave the teachers greater flexibility and latitude.”
But, he said, as some other schools have adopted an A+ grade, which would give a student with 100 percent in a course a GPA of 4.333, the A+ would allow students to balance their GPA if they slip and get an A- in one course, which results in a 3.67.
CSU should do the same, Trout said.
Alan Lamborn, provost of Undergraduate Affairs, said college grading on the national stage is slowly moving toward a plus/minus system because the model is more accurate than the tradition whole letter grade system.
But schools in Colorado and Wyoming are following CSU in talks about dropping the C-.
CSU used the whole letter grading system until the late 1990s. The reason for the initial change from whole letters to a plus/minus system was because of student government lobbying efforts that began nearly two decades ago.
Lamborn said some teachers agreed with the students that the whole letter system was too blunt and that the plus/minus system would be a more accurate reflection of student’s efforts in class.
But other teachers did not like the idea for the change saying the whole letter grade system was sufficient.
“From a teaching perspective the benefits of the plus/minus system are pretty straightforward,” said Mike Palmquist, the director of The Institution for Learning and Teaching. “The judgment call you make about a student’s performance in a class is as far less of a potential negative impact than when you have a plus/minus grading system.”
Staff writer Scott Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.