Plus/minus grading misses mark

By Kimberly Marion

The NIU administration has been thinking about changing our grading system to a plus/minus system. I am going to speak on the behalf of myself and other students when I say: “We don’t want the grading system to change.” The system we have already works.

Some feel that it would make the college more prestigious because colleges such as Harvard and Vanderbilt use the plus/minus system. Yes, that is exactly it. NIU will have more class and prestige because of the plus/minus system. It has absolutely nothing to do with location, admission standards, reputation and money.

Another reason that the administration would like to change the grading system is to give the faculty more options. If the plus/minus system went into effect, there would be 13 options. How many more options does a person need? And, how long will a professor spend mulling over whether a student merits a B or B-? I would figure not long. There is no difference between an A and an A-.

A possibility that is also being considered by NIU administrators is to have a slash system. So, instead of a minus, you could receive an A/B or C/D. This is not a good idea because it can bring down a student’s grade point average.

This idea also allows the faculty not to differentiate between grades. If there is some ambivalence, the teacher may mark both grades. But that is taking the easy way out. There must be a choice.

What I do not understand is why administrators would want to mess with something so simple. If the institution keeps the same grading system as we have now, there will be only five grades and incompletes. It is the grading technique that the students are used to. This leads to another question – when would either grading system be applied to the NIU students?

It will take some time, considering the administrators at NIU have yet to decide whether the change in grading will happen. But if and when it does occur, it will affect students who have been at NIU and are beyond their freshman year.

The good news is, many schools have not decided to adopt this technique. Many Ivy League colleges use this system, but we do not attend to an Ivy League college. And now that I know that they use the plus/minus system, I never will attend an Ivy League college.

Now that you know the situation, there is something that you can do if you are a student. You can go to the meetings that are being held to discuss this matter or write to the administration about your concerns. You can write to the Northern Star, but your letter would be better received on an administrator’s desk.

I also would voice concerns to the Student Association and see how the situation is progressing. I know the SA seems intimidating, but your GPA is at stake. A change in the grading system affects you directly.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.