New plus, minus system criticized

By Jack Manning

The plus and minus grading scale, implemented for the first time in the fall, received mixed reviews from students.

In the previous system, a student who earned 91 percent would receive the same grade as another who earned 100 percent. Under the new scale, 91 percent would now have a lower value in a student’s GPA.

According to NIU’s website, the new scale will also be used for classes which require a certain letter grade to pass or get in to as well as for calculating academic honors. Classes that have academic prerequisites — like “a grade of C or higher is required” — will no longer allow students to pass with a grade of C-. Student Association members fought the grading scale when it was first discussed because of students’ reactions to the policy. The system allows for teachers to choose if they use the plus and minus grading scale. This method of implementation has been a source for complaints, and was one reason why the SA was opposed to the policy.

“We have an obligation to the students,” said SA Senate Speaker Dillon Domke. “When the majority of students that came to us had negative things to say about the new system, we voiced the opinion that this was not something the students wanted.”

Domke said the system can be unfair to seniors since they have been using the old system for all of the years they have been at NIU.

“I was a little disappointed. I was one of the student leaders last year, [and] we showed opposition to the new system because the university didn’t have a clear plan for implementation,” said James Alford, senior political science major. “I am against the system because I believe that the system should be the same across the board; I don’t think the teachers should decide when to use it or not, either everybody should use it or no one should.”

Domke said students who received letter grades with a plus favor the system more than students who received a letter grade with a minus.

Some students think the new grading system gives harder working students an advantage.

“I think the system definitely has its pros and its cons, but I think that it can be beneficial because it can get you that higher A or higher B and it distinguishes between when you have and 89 percent versus a 95 percent,” said senior psychology major Elizabeth Balvaneda.