Plus/minus system takes effect; professors choose their own scales

With the implementation of the new plus/minus grading system, two students with the same grade of a 71 may not receive the same credit, the associate registrar said. Mary Kincannon, associate registrar, said a grade of a C-minus or below will result in no credit.

After more than two years of heated debates and considerations, TCU implemented the plus/minus grading system this semester. The system will be applicable for incoming undergraduate, graduate and transfer students. Students enrolled before this semester will not be affected by it.

The plus/minus grading system will use grades such as a B-plus and a B-minus instead of a flat B.

Under the old system, a student making an 80 and another student making an 89 in a class would both earn a B. With the plus/minus grading system, a person earning an 89 will not only receive a B-plus but also a more grade points.

However, if a freshman and a sophomore take the same class, and make a 71, the sophomore will receive a C and will get credit for it. The freshman, on the other hand, will receive a C-minus and will have to repeat the course.

David Grant, professor of religion and chair of the department, said this side of the system was not fair.

Grant said even though he supported the plus/minus grading system, he was opposed to the grandfathering. He said it should have gone into effect for everyone.

Some freshmen said the plus/minus grading system was not mentioned during academic advising. However, like the debates that have plagued it for two years, there was a mixed response toward it.

William Sandoval, a freshman religion major, said he has confidence in the new grading system.

“I actually believe it’s fair to disperse it like that,” Sandoval said. “People who are studying harder should get more credit than someone who’s doing a mediocre job.”

On the other hand, Evan Kern, a freshman premajor, said he was not sure if the system was good or bad. Kern said if he received an 81 in a class, he would not want to get a B-minus and receive a lower grade when he could have earned a B. On the other hand, he said, if he made an 89, he would want to get a better grade than someone who made an 81.

However, the plus/minus grading system is not mandatory, said Patrick Miller, registrar and director of enrollment management.

Miller said the faculty members will have the freedom to choose whether they want to follow this system. Students, however, will not have the same option.

The grading range will also be the faculty members’ decision, Miller said.

Miller said the disparity between the grades of two students in the same class with different professors using different grading systems is not fair. However, he said that the disparity exists even now. It might not be in terms of plus/minus, but it might be in the way a professor sets his grading scale, Miller said.

“One professor could say 94 is an A and another could say 90 is an A,” Miller said.

Marco Duran, a junior biology and finance major, said he was concerned about the system. Duran said if a student was doing well it would be a good system for them. However, making a 4.0 would be more difficult since making a 90 would no longer guarantee four grade points, Duran said.

Miller said he believes the plus/minus grading system to be a “more accurate grade scheme” that will give better grades to more deserving students.