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New grading passes

Audrey Kunkel

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Despite voiced disapproval by many students, the Board of Regents unanimously passed the new plus/minus grading system at their Jan. 11th meeting. Plus and minus grades will begin being passed out in Fall 2007. Instructors will have the choice whether or not to use them in their classrooms.

Some students attended the meeting to protest the new grading system.

“The student body as a whole is against this totally,” said Branden Kiely, the Student Government Association’s Vice President of Administrative Affairs and one of the protestors.

“This is going to hurt more students than it helps,” said sophomore Cory Bankemper. “There was nothing wrong with the old grading system.”

Bankemper held a sign that read, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

President Votruba commented before the vote that he highly supported plus and minus grades because they provide a more accurate assessment that would benefit employers. “Students and the public should expect the most precise evaluation of student performance,” he said.

The Faculty Senate approved the plus/minus system in September and Provost Gail Wells and President Votruba subsequently approved it for submission to the Board of Regents for final approval.

The Faculty Senate gave the following rationale for the grading change, including:

-Plus and minus grades will allow for a more precise measurement of student performance.

-A tighter range for a particular grade will be fairer to students. Currently and 88 and an 82 average would both result in a B, but under the new system an 88 average should result in a better grade. The Senate expects that the new system will increase student’s motivation.

-Many universities have switched to a plus and minus system in recent years.

Chase College of Law already uses plus and minus grades.

The 12 to 0 vote in favor of plus/minus grading came as a shock to some students. Several SGA members were protesting during the vote and had expected SGA President Jennifer Perry to dissent.

In a statement made previous to the vote, Jennifer Perry said that she had “exhausted” all of her resources in order to decide whether a new grading system was in the best interest of the student body.

“I polled the current Student Government,” she said, “asking them if they were in favor of this proposal or not. 3 were in favor and 11 were against.”

Perry said that she took this into sincere consideration and had great respect and understanding for how her fellow students felt. However, she said that she sincerely believed the new grading system was in the best interests of the students.

“I have concluded that this proposed grading system will prove to be very advantageous to students at the individual level, to the student body as a whole, as well as the university in its pursuits to progress positively in the competitive higher education system,” Perry’s statement read.

“(Jennifer Perry) was deeply troubled over which way to go,” said Kiely afterwards. “I’m still surprised that she went that way, but it was totally her decision.”

“There are some senators that are mad,” said Kiely. “But you can’t make everybody happy. I think a lot of people were opposed to it because they only heard the negative. You’re always going to hear the negative before the positive.”

“We were shocked,” said Senator Paul Myers. “I don’t think it should have been up to her. She should represent the student body and it couldn’t have been clearer that we were against this. Almost all of the (SGA) senators were opposed.”

“Some of the people protesting had been at odds before but they were there together protesting. It just shows how united students were over this and we feel Jennifer Perry turned her back on the student body,” Myers said. “One of her titles is Student Regent, but her other one is Student Body President, and her vote should have reflected our position.”

“I am currently looking into ways to fight this,” Myers said. “I have a lot of students telling me that we should keep fighting this. One avenue I’m considering is drafting a petition and seeing how many students I can get to sign it. We’re pretty upset right now.”

Myers is the creator of the Facebook.com NKU group “Say No to Plus/minus Grading.” The group has 167 members.

There are 11 grades in the new system: A, A minus, B plus, B, B minus, C plus, C, C minus, D plus, D and F. An A corresponds with a 4.0 grade, an A minus a 3.667, and consecutively downwards with one-third of a quality point being subtracted for each lower grade.

An A+ grade, with their corresponding grade of 4.333, are not awarded because there is the danger that graduate schools might re-calculate any GPA from NKU and set the A+ as a 4.0. This would be a great disadvantage to students, the Faculty Senate stated in its proposal. D minus was thrown out of the system so that there will be an even number of plus and minus grades.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
New grading passes