ASB calls for A+ addition to grading scale

Posted on Nov 1 2018 - 5:50am by Laysen Landrum

Students could earn an A+ for some courses as early as next fall.

The Associated Student Body Senate passed a resolution at its Tuesday night meeting asking for the university to include an A+ option to the university’s grading scale.

Sally Boswell, the grading policy chair for the ASB Academic Affairs Board, said the purpose of the resolution is “to give professors the option to reward students for exceptional performance.”

“Receiving an A- would no longer render a cumulative 4.0 an impossibility,” Boswell said.

The policy, which passed through the senate by a margin of 32-13, would grant professors the option of using an A+ letter grade without mandating that professors use it. To take effect, the senate’s resolution still requires approval from UM administration.

As stated by university policy, the conversion from raw score to letter grade is completely up the discretion of the professor. The establishment of this policy would not alter that. If added, the A+ would be worth 4.3 on the GPA scale.

The resolution states that cumulative GPA would still be capped at 4.0, but GPA for an individual semester could be as high as 4.3. The University of Mississippi would be the third school in the SEC to implement this policy.

According to information presented at the meeting,  University of Alabama and Louisiana State University both already have an A+ worth 4.33 and 4.3 respectively on their grading scales.

A major concern expressed by the resolution’s opposition was the lack of student input on the idea. Senators who voted against the resolution cited the fact that no polls were conducted to gauge student sentiment.

“ASB has posted on their social media, at least once, that this is coming to the floor and to contact your senator if you have concerns or thoughts, and to my knowledge, no concerns or thoughts were raised,” ASB Sen. Nick Weaver, an author of the resolution, said.

Some senators expressed concerns that the grade inflation may cause issues for students, and worried that this change would create new issues rather than solving old ones.

“There are students on this campus who have earned a 4.0 and they’ve earned that 4.0 because they’ve kept it all the way through,” Sen. Charlotte Sackleford said. “And if we do pass this bill then students who haven’t earned that 4.0 all way through are going to be able to be on the same playing field, and I’m not sure how fair that is.”

Senators conveyed another concern from constituents that this would put additional pressure on high-achieving students, and this change could affect graduate school acceptance rates for Ole Miss students, with graduate schools possibly not accepting the weighted GPAs.

“I’ve heard from several constituents who are worried about grad school acceptance rates and those grad schools recalculating their GPAs so as not to reflect this inflation,” ASB Sen. Abby Johnson said. “So, I would like to see more research on that and its effect on our students’ acceptance into these grad schools.”

Weaver said the Faculty Senate’s response to the bill was “optimistic, and they were very positive.”

The resolution will move into the hands of the Faculty Senate, which has shown interest in moving the resolution forward. The Faculty Senate has already sent a preliminary version of the resolution to their Committee of Academic Instructional Affairs, according to the Sept. 11 Faculty Senate Agenda.

The resolution is set to come before the Faculty Senate for a vote on Nov. 13. If the bill passes there, it will be passed on to the Institutions of Higher Learning for inspection and consideration. If the resolution encounters no major issues and is approved at each step of this process, the A+ policy could be put into practice by the Fall 2019 semester at the earliest.