U system inches closer to uniform grading

Jim Martyka

The University took one step closer to adopting a uniform grading policy Thursday as the University Senate passed a motion to implement the initiative for all the campuses except Duluth.
Currently, several University grading and transcript policies, such as those dealing with transfer students and incompletes, are separate from each other. However, the proposed policy would combine several of these policies into one, which would apply to the Twin Cities, Morris and Crookston campuses. The new policy also includes some changes.
Duluth, which is not officially governed by the University Senate, would not be affected by this policy.
Laura Koch, chairwoman of the University Senate Committee on Educational Policy, introduced the motion to the senate that passed by a voice vote with only a few people opposing.
Now, the policy will be sent on for University President Nils Hasselmo to review. If he gives his approval, the policy could take effect as early as fall 1997.
If Hasselmo disapproves of the policy, then it is possible that senators would have to review it for changes.
However, Koch said she thought this was a policy Hasselmo would definitely support. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t support it,” she said. “He would have to have some pretty compelling reasons not to.”
A main section of the policy calls for professors to add pluses and minuses to the A-F grading scale. Currently, professors only give letter grades for courses. However, if this policy is adopted, students could receive pluses or minuses on their transcripts, which would alter grade-point averages.
For example, a B-minus would be worth 2.67 points instead of being counted as a B worth 3.00. The same would apply to pluses, meaning a B-plus would be 3.33.
In earlier stages of developing the policy, some professors expressed concern with this part of the policy. In a Twin Cities assembly meeting last October, John Anderson, a biochemistry professor said distinguishing whether student work is worthy of a plus or minus could be difficult for professors. “This may put a lot of pressure on professors,” he said.
However, Koch emphasized the fact that there weren’t any rules that could force the professors to award pluses or minuses.
“They really don’t have to if they don’t want to,” she said. “If they want to only give the straight grades, they can.”
The uniform policy also includes several minor changes regarding student transcripts.
A uniform grading policy was first introduced by the educational policy committee to the University Senate last May. It was then sent to all four of the campus assemblies for approval.
In October, the Twin Cities, Crookston and Morris assemblies all approved the policy. Officials at Duluth, however, hesitated to reply, saying that since they weren’t governed by the University Senate, they felt they didn’t have to review the policy. Also, they said a response was unnecessary because Duluth’s grading policy is very similar to the one proposed.
Recently, officials in the senate determined they could vote to pass it for just the other three campuses.
At the same time, Duluth officials have reviewed their policy and made slight changes to bring their policy even closer to the proposed one.
At Thursday’s meeting, senators discussed the motion for five minutes before passing it. Koch said that if it had not passed, then the campus assemblies would have been put in charge of their respective campuses’ grading policies.
But, Koch said people should realize how beneficial this uniform grading policy will be.
“This uniform grading policy makes sure that everyone is under the same grading rules,” she said.