Pluses and minuses to grading policy

Jim Martyka

While administrators ponder whether or not to enact a uniform grading system policy for the University, advocates of the policy recently decided to make a few changes to the plan.
One major change proposed would eliminate the “D” grade from the portion of the policy that would add pluses and minuses to transcript grades.
Currently, the University only uses solid letter grades. However, the new policy, which was passed by the University Senate on Feb. 20, would add pluses and minuses that would alter grade-point calculations.
The original plan includes a “D” grade, but several members of the University Senate Committee on Educational Policy recently proposed that the grade be taken out, said Laura Koch, chairwoman of the committee.
Koch said one main reason for the amendment was that the Duluth campus, which already has a plus-minus system, does not use a “D” grade.
“It makes it more consistent with Duluth policy as we look to coordinate what is happening with Duluth’s (policy) and what is happening with the rest of the University,” Koch said.
Because Duluth is not governed by the University Senate, the proposed grading policy does not affect the campus. However, the education committee has made it a goal to model the policy after the Duluth grading program, though it would cover all other campuses.
The University Senate will consider the amendment to the grading policy, along with other minor changes, at its meeting April 17.
Although the plus-minus grading system is a vital part of the new policy, Koch said the main feature of the plan is that it will consolidate several University grading policies, such as those dealing with transfer students and incompletes, into one uniform policy.
Currently, there are separate policies for each of these sections.
The uniform grading policy was sent to University President Nils Hasselmo for review. If the recent changes pass in the senate, they will also be forwarded to Hasselmo.
If the president gives his approval, the plan will become University policy.
Hasselmo is required by University policy to respond to the plan by May 21.
Though Hasselmo has not officially responded to the policy, administrators said they felt he would approve it.
“I don’t think there would be any problems, but I don’t have an official approval yet,” said Martha Kvanbeck, administrative director of the University Senate.
“Yeah, he wants this policy,” said Koch.
The policy, if approved, is scheduled to take effect in fall 1997.