+/- grading sees delays

The plus/minus grading scale, scheduled to go into effect in fall 2008, has been pushed back until fall 2009 because the new student information system needed to support it will not be online until then.

With the new system, Northern Kentucky University will be adding A-, B+, B-, C+, C- and D+ to its current grading format. For example, instead of just earning three quality points for a B, students will now receive 3.33 quality points for a B+, and 2.67 quality points for a B-.

Implementation will be campus wide, but use of the system is at the discretion of the professor. Some may choose to use the new scale, but others may stick to the old one.”It gives students a better sense of where they stand,” said Gail Wells, vice president of academic affairs.

The new scale has the potential to help or hurt students with borderline grades. For this reason, many students don’t see it as such a good idea.

Matt Butt, a senior marketing major, said he thinks it’s bad for students. “It makes it harder to get the grade you need to pass,” he said.

When the Board of Regents passed the bill in January 2006, some students who had a 4.0 GPA raised concern that they may not be able to maintain it. “Research shows there is not too much variation,” Wells said about changes in students’ grades, but she hopes the new system motivates students with borderline grades to move to the next grade level.

NKU isn’t the only place to have conflict over this grading system.

A PowerPoint presentation given in 2005 by NKU to supply information about the new scale said the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University use plus/minus grading, that Thomas More College uses a modified version and the University of Louisville is the only Kentucky school to use the scale.

Matt Heinrichs, a senior marketing major, said he likes the system we currently have and has friends that go to the University of Cincinnati and they do not like the grading system.

The presentation did not mention that the University of Kentucky discontinued the use of plus/minus grading in 2003 after a short stint and use of the scale passed in March 2004 by the University Senate but still has not been implemented.

Erica Papes, a sophmore at UK, said while they don’t have a campus-wide system, some of the colleges, like the nursing college, set an A as a 92 or above, rather than a 90.

Vanessa Blair, a senior at the University of Louisville, said they have a plus/minus grading system, but its up to the professors to decide whether or not they want to use it. Some just use the plus, some just use standard grading.

“We have had some ups and downs with that,” she said. “I personally think they should drop the minuses and just have the plusses, because it does hurt students’ grades.”