Last year Reginster chaired an ad hoc committee that surveyed 200 faculty on the University’s grading system. The College Curriculum Council is scheduled to study the issue this semester.
BAM How satisfied are faculty with the current grading system?
Reginster Over 80 percent favored some sort of a change, particularly the reintroduction of pluses and minuses. Exactly what change was preferred was unclear, but what seemed to be emerging was the need for more fine-grained discrimination in grading.
BAM Is grade inflation a problem?
Reginster Many people felt that the grading system, precisely because it lacks discriminating power, fosters grade inflation. If you have two students, each of whom stands to earn a B in a class, but one is a high, strong B and the other is borderline, faculty perceive an injustice in giving them the same grade. So the tendency is not to pull the low B down to a C, but to raise the high B into the A range. But that diminishes the significance of As.
BAM What other suggestions did faculty make?
Reginster These letters have acquired such a strong symbolic significance that some people say we should just get rid of the letters altogether and use numbers, which don’t have the symbolic significance. For students these days, C has become the scarlet letter. It shouldn’t be. C used to be for competent work, but now a C is tantamount to borderline incompetence.