1,682 A+ grades awarded

By Patrick Boyle

Students witnessed something magical in fall 2002–the rebirth of a grade. With the recent standardization of the Alberta post-secondary grading system, last term was the first since 1975 in which U of C students were able to earn A+ grades. According to the Registrar’s Office, this highest of distinctions accounted for 1,682 out of approximately 80,000 grades, which works out to 2.1 per cent.

“Usually A-range grades account for around 28 per cent of total grades,” said U of C Registrar David Johnston. “Although we are still waiting for a small number of grades, that number doesn’t seem to have increased. This indicates that the introduction of the A+ hasn’t caused an increase in the total number of A-range grades awarded, which was expected.”

In contrast to the other plus grades, an A+ is worth 4.0, just like it’s non-plus counterpart, essentially making it a 4.0 with bragging rights. When the decision to bring back the grade was made this fall, members of the academic community expressed concern over some possible negative consequences. Primarily, there was the risk that some professors would not be aware of their ability to award the grade, which may have resulted in inconsistencies in some students’ transcripts.

“In September, the Students’ Union Academic Commission was concerned that the decision to introduce the A+ might not be the best idea for students,” said SU Academic Commissioner Demitrios Nicolaides. “However, after we had discussed the matter thoroughly with the Registrar and the deans, we were satisfied that both groups were going to make an effort to communicate the news to all faculty members.”

Interestingly, the A+ grade may be more than just a nominal commendation. According to Johnston, most universities where an A+ is worth more than an A in GPA calculation will recalculate the average when considering U of C students transferring in or applying for graduate studies.

“If a U of C student were to transfer to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, where the A+ is worth 4.33 on the GPA scale, their average would be recalculated in recognition of their achievement,” said Johnston. “I think many of the schools out there are going to make an effort to level the playing field. Regardless, although it isn’t factored into the U of C GPA as higher than an A, it appears directly on the transcript as an A+, which doesn’t go unnoticed.”

As more detailed statistics emerge about the distribution of grades for the fall 2002 semester, students and faculty alike will watch carefully for any undesirable trends in the distribution of grades, especially the new A+. One possibility is that some faculties or departments made more liberal use of the grades than others, and outcome that would likely draw the ire of students and their representatives.

“The A+ is here–we’re beginning to see its implementation and pretty soon we’ll have some tangible results,” said Nicolaides. “We’ll be surveying the situation and if we feel that it’s necessary we’ll re-open discussion of the matter at the Students’ Union.”

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