Editorial: ‘Minus’ grades could put students at disadvantage

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Baylor students may have a hard time hitting their target GPA in upcoming years.

The faculty senate voted last week to allow “minus” grades to the grading system. This means students who make, for example, a “90” in a class could have an A- on their GPA instead of an A, probably a 3.7 instead of a 4.0. The provost’s office has the final say as to whether this change goes through or not.

Dr. Douglas Henry, associate professor of philosophy and co-chair of the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, told the Lariat that no university uses a plus-only system.

Some other schools have looked at changing their grading systems to add “plus” and “minus” grades. The University of Texas talked about adding an A+ to its grading system, which would give students a 4.33 GPA. The University of Maryland also moved toward a plus-and-minus system from its currently letter grade only system.

Many universities also have differing grading systems between departments.

Every university needs to adopt the same grading policy. Different grading policies can affect student GPA’s by a significant number of points.

This move by the faculty senate could make it tougher on pre-med, pre-law or any student seeking a graduate degree after Baylor by potentially lowering their GPA.

But every school should be the same. As of right now, there is no concern for a student as to where they sit between a “90” and a “100,” because wherever the grade ends up that student has an A. Other schools working toward a graduate program have to worry about an A- dropping their GPA by .3 points.

The main thing for Baylor is figuring out the complete logistics of a new grading system.

One of the major worries with adding minuses is whether or not a C- would be equivalent to a 2.0, the grade point needed for credit in most major fields of study. Schools that use a plus-minus system equate a C- with a 1.7 (B- is a 2.7, A- is a 3.7). Those same schools add .3 to a “plus” grade (a B+ equals a 3.3), so would Baylor change its policy on “plus” grades as well? And would Baylor adopt an A+ rule, turning a 4.0 into a 4.3?

A grading system should not be this confusing. The universities need to come together to adopt a universal rule. We cannot have students competing for the same spots in grad school on different levels of playing field. This is something that probably does not cross the minds of admission people at medical and law school that one student’s 4.0 is another student’s 3.75.

Baylor’s move to change its grading system is not necessarily a bad one. If the faculty feels we need more accurate grading, that makes sense. However, it needs to adopt a policy similar to those of other schools without hindering its own students. If a “minus” grade is going to be added, then an A+ should be added as well to give incentive for going above and beyond.