Grading policy adapts by adding ‘minus’

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 at 9:34 PM

Starting this semester, Edinboro University will adapt its grading policy to match many other state universities by adding minus grades to the grading scale.

“Through my interactions with provosts at other state system universities, I came to realize that a number of these institutions, and others outside of the State System, had grading scales that included minus grades, while we [Edinboro] did not,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Hannan.

Last fall, Hannan asked the University Senate to form a committee to consider expanding Edinboro University’s grading scale, in order to include minus grades. 

“It had been some time since the issue was last considered and I was aware that minus grades were common at other universities,” he said.

During the 2016 spring semester, the University Senate voted to recommend the grading policy change to interim president Dr. David Werner, who approved the change.

“I noticed the policy here [Edinboro University] was different from how it had been at most other schools I had been at, and not only that, but faculty I talked to, and even students, weren’t familiar with any other school that had plus grades, but no minus grades. There’s two big problems with that,” said spokesperson for the grading policy review committee Dr. Peter McLaughlin.

McLaughlin continued, “For one thing, faculty wanted a little more flexibility in the grades they assigned. The second thing is that we looked at all other schools and confirmed that our system was really out of step with what most other schools would consider a ‘B’ student or an ‘A’ student.”

McLaughlin also stressed the importance  of Edinboro University’s grading system being uniform with other universities, in order to discuss students’ grades with job recruiters.

“If I were to talk about students with a job recruiter, I want to be able to say this student is a ‘B’ student and have that person know exactly what I mean. Usually when you think about a ‘B’ student, that looks like a student in the mid 80s range [and] with the system that we [Edinboro] used to have, you can have that GPA being a student in the low 80s range.”

The biggest change to the grading policy is the addition of the minus grades. But additionally, for the first time, the university provided a recommendation or a guideline for the grading policy for faculty, which states the standard percentage grade for each letter grade. 

However, faculty are not subject to follow the provided grading guideline.

“Faculty are free to give any grade they want. They can construct their grading policy [and] if they don’t want to give plus or minus grades they don’t have to. That hasn’t been a change, but now we’re providing a little bit of guidance as to what is typical for faculty if they want to go with that,” said McLaughlin.

Additionally, faculty participated in a survey regarding the potential change in the grading system, in which 155 faculty members responded; 130 were in favor for the grading change and 25 opposed.

 “Most of the faculty comments were strongly in favor of making the change,” said McLaughlin. 

For students, the change in the grading system will, for the most part, not affect their academic success, but will make their GPAs appear more uniform to other university GPAs.

“This grading change will make our grading system more consistent with other universities, which may make their [students] overall GPA appear more comparable to those from other institutions, should they apply for graduate school.”

Hannan continued, “They [students] should also realize that adding this option for faculty will make it a little more challenging to get a higher GPA, which I hope will encourage them to work hard in class and seek assistance when needed.”

McLaughlin also commented on how the new grading policy may affect students.

“I don’t think it’s [new grading policy] going to change things too much. I think in some instances students might have lower grades than they would have otherwise gotten, but it can also work the other way around.”

McLaughlin continued, “A lot of them [students] did admit it was kind of strange that we had this policy of plus grades without minus grades, and that [it] was different from even what they had in high school. Which tells me that the grading policy Edinboro used to have was less rigorous than what students experienced in high school.” 

Students are encouraged to review each individual course’s syllabus to see what grades and scaling their professor, or faculty advisor, plan to utilize for that specific course.

Macala Leigey is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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