Grading failure

In Editorials

Next semester, CSUF professors will issue grades with the aid of
plus/minus scaling.

Students should eye this development wearily: we predict the policy
will result in slower rates of graduation and lowered GPAs.

The Academic Senate – a governing body comprising faculty and
administrators, but only one or two student representatives –
approved the measure, and President Gordon then affirmed it.

Also, the tepid student representation Associated Students Inc.
provided during last semester’s meetings left much to be
desired.

Proponents of the measure contend the scale will lend greater
precision to the grading process. Predictably, they cite
hypothetical instances in which students on the verge may be
awarded a B- as opposed to a flat C, thus better reflecting their
work-level while raising their GPAs.

We doubt the likelihood of such instances.

Call us pessimistic, but we cannot overlook the probability that
many students who toil in overcrowded classrooms to 80 percent
scores will be awarded with a B-, as opposed to the more desirable
B’s they would previously have earned. A B- is worth a GPA
tabulation of 2.7, significantly lower than the 3.0 an 80 percent
grade would hitherto have earned.

And now for the policy’s most egregious inequity: the glaring
absence of an A+’s logical corollary, a 4.3, on the
scale.

We find it to defy all logic that every grade other than A is
endowed with the + feature. Overachievers beware the pitfalls: the
90 percent you once counted on as worth a 4.0 on the grading scale
is now in danger of the caprice of the dreaded -, which will earn
you an unscholarly 3.7.

The only redeemable quality of this decision-from-above is that it
allows professors to resist it. So long as they inform students via
their syllabi, professors can choose not to impose the new system
upon their students. We hope many resist.

The policy’s inherent flaws are most salient in classes in
which quantifying student performance is most difficult, like
writing.

Given the subjective nature of evaluating written work, broad
plateaus provided by A, B, C and so on are practical and
accurate.

Even the most sagacious and accomplished professor would agree that
splitting hairs over an essay – “Hmm B- or C+?“
– is an irreconcilably fallible task.

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