Plus-Minus committee deliberates decision on grading system

Joseph Torres

The Faculty Senate and Student Government Association (SGA) established a Plus-Minus Committee to discuss the current form of the grading system. The committee includes undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty members from multiple colleges at UTSA.

Currently, a student’s GPA is calculated with a plus-minus grade-symbol. The General Academic Regulations on UTSA’s website provide a thorough explanation of credits, their grading system and symbols. This is now being reviewed by the committee to establish consistency for grading criteria across all courses.

“So far, we have discussed different grading system options, including the current plus-minus system, changing it slightly or moving to straight grades,” Priya Prasad, assistant professor of mathematics and faculty senator said. “[They’ve also discussed] the contexts and constraints of enforcing a consistent policy on grading by incorporating mandated language or standards into all course syllabi.”

A lack of standardized grading criteria across all courses requires this attention.

“The goal is to recommend to the Provost a system of grading that would be optimal and equitable to be enforced university-wide and help promote student success and on-time graduation. Keeping this in mind, we are proceeding carefully and trying to gather as much information as possible. Most importantly, there is a drive to establish consistency with the grading system,” Prasad said.

No deadline has been set for a decision from the Plus-Minus Committee.

“This is a very important issue that requires a focused approach. We are not going to set an arbitrary deadline, but instead are focused on the quality of our work,” Prasad said.

While the Plus-Minus Committee is deliberating the best solution, students are split between whether UTSA should keep the plus-minus grading system or to have it removed.

“They should remove the plus-minus system. If you get an A- in class, that will affect your GPA by a few points,” Horace Henry, a sophomore public health major said.

The grade-symbol for an A+ and an A are both equal to 4.0 grade points, where an A- is equal to 3.67 grade points with the current system. This could adversely affect a student’s chances of maintaining a 4.0 GPA if their course uses the plus-minus system.

“I’ve had classes where I’ll work hard to get an A+ but everyone will get a 4.0 even if they get an A-,” Layla Palmer, a senior communication major said.

Jake Hooper, a junior public health major, agrees with Palmer, “I’m for the plus-minus system, if someone gets a low A then it counts as an A [4.0] but if you get a 98 then it’s not really the same measured work.”

Olive Scalise, a freshman psychology major, disagrees, “With the plus-minus system it’s harder to keep a higher GPA, I’d like to see them do away with it.”

The Plus-Minus Committee has already visited with the Chairs’ Council and Provost’s Council for their opinions. Prasad added that a student survey will be sent out soon to gather student opinions.