Minus grades hardly affect GPAs

By Sergio Legorreta

Despite mixed reactions toward the implementation of minuses in the grading system, it has not affected GPAs, said Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost for undergraduate education.

Null, a member of the Grading Policy Implementation team, said GPAs have not been negatively affected so far. When comparing approximately 3,000 students’ grades from the past three summer terms, there has virtually been no change, he said.

“Any change we’ve seen is within hundredths of a GPA point,” Null said.

The new policy, which went into effect during the May mini-mester, allows but does not require faculty members to use an altered plus and minus system in class. Minuses, not used in the previous grading policy, have a lower GPA weight than before. However, Baylor does not have a set standard to equate percentage in class to a specific letter grade.

According to the registrar’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Grading Policy Change, “Students should refer to individual course syllabi to determine how instructors intend to use the grading scale.”

Sharon Bracken, senior lecturer in the journalism department, said she uses pluses but not minuses in her class.

“I do not think that they correlate with the actual letter grade,” Bracken said. “I think it’s confusing for students. If you have a C-, I’m afraid a student might think, ‘I have a 2.0 in the class,’ when in fact they have a 1.67 average, which is not considered passing.”

North Richland Hills senior C.J. Price said he does not like the new minuses or the scaling grade policy in general.

“I would prefer if GPA was considered on a point-by-point scale so GPA was representative of performance and not distorted by one or two points,” Price said.

Dr. Chris Pullig, associate professor and chairman of marketing, said he finds the pluses and minuses system useful and implements it in class.

“It will be beneficial in that Baylor will be viewed as having a higher level of academic rigor, which will be better in the long run for students,” Pullig said.

Pullig said the system is especially beneficial for graduate students, as law school admissions already adjust students’ GPA into their grading scales, which includes minuses. If students apply while at an institution that does not use a minus scale system they may have their GPA adjusted downward more than necessary for comparisons, particularly if numerical values on transcripts cannot be verified.

“It aligns us with peer institutions so that graduate schools can make more direct GPA comparisons,” Pullig said.

However, Pullig said it is good the policy remains optional for professors.

“An optional policy is common across many schools,” he said. “The advantage of it being optional is that individual professors can apply it according to the rigor of the course. I have confidence that individual faculty members will apply the policy in an appropriate manner.”

San Antonio senior Alexander Keller said he believes the policy may be beneficial for graduates in other regards outside of law school applications.

“If you and another candidate apply for a job and you both have a 3.0, but you are in the minus system, it can come down to that,” Keller said.