By Jodde Mason
Two years ago, the University of Calgary implemented the A+ grading system, which incidentally caused some students to start getting better grades.
Acting Dean of Communications and Culture, Edna Einsiedel gave the mark once when she was teaching.
“[The student] carried out a pilot project to provide low-energy low-cost lights to an aboriginal community,” said Einsiedel of her prodigious student. “She planned the project, implemented it in partnership with an non-governmental organization, carried out an evaluation and wrote up an excellent report.”
The dean went on to say the grade should be rare and applied only to exceptionally high quality work.
The Students’ Academic Assembly, prior to 2002, feared the change, but when the Alberta government standardized the grading scale across the four Alberta universities, those fears quickly vanished.
“We used to have a policy on the A+ that said Student’ Union recommends that the university immediately remove the A+ grading system,” said SU Vice-President Academic Laura Schultz. “At the time it was a great concern. There was a concern that some professors would use it and some wouldn’t.”
There was also some concern around whether all the faculties would use it. David Johnston, U of C’s Registrar, said that all faculties are using it, and have been since its establishment.
Schultz, however, questions the equity of the grade.
“There are discrepancies between some faculties,” she said. “If an A+ is a 90 per cent in Social Sciences, but a 96 per cent in Communications and Culture, is there fairness in that?”
She is not the only student questioning the grade.
“At other schools where the A+ is worth more, a normal A will only be worth a 3.9, and some students have problems with that,” she said. “Some students have a problem with the entire grading system, as it is not reflective of a true numerical value.”