Story by Cara Regan
Faculty Senate passed a motion March 13 to bring plus-minus grading to Drake University starting in the fall of 2016.
Before the vote, surveys on the grading system received mixed responses from faculty and students. A total of 232 non-law faculty members out of 260 voted. Of the respondents, 67 percent were in favor of the grading system, leaving 33 percent opposed.
Drake students received the same survey in October. With a 32 percent response rate, 80 percent opposed a plus-minus grading system. Before the final vote on March 13, Drake Student Senate Academic Affairs Chair Stephen Slade addressed the Faculty Senate.
“Please remember the student opinion when casting your vote,” Slade said.
Despite student opposition, the meeting produced the same result. Faculty Senate passed the motion 12-4.
Faculty Senate President Keith Summerville said plus and minus grading is necessary for juniors and seniors. He said professors should be able to discriminate on a smaller grading scale since they are preparing students for the workforce.
“If I am telling someone that they are qualified enough to have a particular skill, I need the ability to differentiate between those that are pretty good and those that are just sort of good,” Summerville said.
Slade said he is against the motion due to negative effects on students financially and in the business world. He said since the plus -minus system could lower grade point averages, students would receive less scholarships, making it difficult to afford tuition. He said a lowered GPA, even on a small scale, could easily take students out of the running in the job market.
Drake students did not know the motion wouldn’t go into effect until 2016 when responding to the survey. Slade said that could explain the 80 percent opposition. However, he still feels students will not be in favor of the change.
“Students will react apathetically because once it goes into effect everyone will be gone,” Slade said. “But I do think general sentiments will still be negative.”