New A+ grading system still needs work

By Ina Sidhu

A month into the school year, even before an A+ course grade has been handed out, a number of issues with the new system have been identified.

Students’ Union Vice-President Rosie Nagra believes a significant issue is the consistency of the A+ grade use throughout the University of Calgary.

“It is very difficult to explain what [it takes] to get an A+,” she said. “If an A student is already at a 95 per cent, an A+ may mean adding two bonus questions or writing a proposal paper. The A will no longer carry the same value.”

SU Academic Commissioner Jayna Gilchrist feels it is unfair to students if the system is implemented without clear regulations, as some professors may recognize the extra distinction, while others avoid it.

“A students are [already] so busy, they don’t need the extra stress,” she said.

Communication and Culture Faculty Representative Jim Bailey has conducted extensive research on the matter.

“Right now there are just too many issues surrounding the A+ system and it seems that none of these problems are going to get solved quickly or efficiently,” he said. “It is important for the A+ to work, and have the actual percentages that will give them an A+ on the outline. That way students will actually know what will give them an A+.”

Bailey sees the A+ merely as a pat on the back or a gold star.

Nagra notes other ways of rewarding excellent students already exist such as the dean’s list, or graduating with distinction and honours. She fears confusion among employers, and pre-professional and graduate schools. The only reason she could see the university adapting this system is to award scholarships.

Associate Dean for the faculty of Engineering Robert Day, sees it as sort of a mini-award.

“[Although it is a] small way if professors want to recognize the very best students in the faculty, I don’t see much purpose having it if it’s not going to count [any higher] towards the GPA.”

Day feels it may contribute to additional appeals from students who feel they deserve an A+.

Fourth-year chemical engineering student Asma Khan doesn’t see much value in the new grade.

“Honestly I wouldn’t care, it’s still a 4.0. Everyone looks at your GPA, it doesn’t matter.”

Third-year electrical engineer Ravinder Minhas feels the opposite.

“[It is] really good for good students and their transcripts, [but it is] not going to affect class averages.”

To Bailey, A+ was an issue before the school year started.

“Since then, it has become an even bigger issue as there are countless students that don’t even know about it at all,” he said. “Some profs are not telling their students about it, or say that they are going to stick to their course outlines, with an A as the highest grade.”

Prior to 1975, the A+ system was in place at the U of C. There is no information available about why it was replaced. The SU will bring the issue to the next General Faculties Council meeting.


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