Plus/minus system brings more accurate grading

This past fall marked the first semester for undergraduates to be graded on the plus/minus grading system.

Although students have always expressed mixed feelings about this system, the scale was designed to be more accurate and ultimately more fair. With the first semester behind us, complaints are still present.

Whether students like the new GPA scale is based largely on how it affects each grade we make. The same system that doesn’t count your 92 as a 4.0 will award that hard-earned 89 with more than the standard 3.0. In other words, we like the system when we make a high B, but think it’s awful when we make an A that is not quite high enough to receive a 4.0.

In reality, you cannot base your decision to like or dislike the scale on each individual grade.

The scale was not designed to help us have a better GPA – it was designed to be accurate. Yeah, it makes a 4.0 more difficult to obtain, but once we get acclimated to the change our perception of grades will adjust.

It takes time to adjust to any major structural change.

When The College Board changed the SAT scale to a 2400 scale instead of 1600, it took some time to get used to. At first it was hard to accept that getting a 1400 no longer means you’re a genius. The same is true here – with time, students will appreciate a 70 not being clumped together with a 79.

Students’ motivation to succeed in school rests largely on GPA. The plus/minus grading system pushes students to work harder and will certainly make that 4.0 even more impressive.

In reality, the problem is not the system itself – it’s that the scale is not consistently used in every department, with every teacher. Teachers having the freedom to accept or reject the plus/minus scale creates an inconsistency.

Last semester, Spanish professor Teresa Blackwell chose to use the new scale for freshmen, but she opted to use the pluses only. She realized the inconsistency within the school and said, “If TCU decides to adopt the plus and minus system it needs to be campus wide, or it will not be fair.”

You cannot accurately compare the height of two people if one person is measured in inches and the other in centimeters. Likewise, you cannot accurately compare the performance of two students by GPAs calculated with different scales.

All personal circumstances aside, the new scale is undoubtedly a more accurate depiction of grades. With this first semester passed, I have realized the accuracy and fairness of the scale cannot be denied. The plus/minus system gives a more precise portrayal of exactly what grade a student makes.

It should to be applied to all classes in every field at all times.

Maddie Tasker is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.