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From Dateline (November 11, 2004)

Campus Institutes Plus/Minus Grading for Spring

It used to be that an “A” was the highest grade Cal State Fullerton students could achieve in class. Next spring, if faculty members so choose, they may give students who have shown exceptional achievement in a course a grade of “A+.

”Earlier this year President Milton A. Gordon approved a university policy that allows faculty members to award pluses and minuses when giving course grades to students.

“This new policy benefits students by rewarding them for better performance,” said Kristi L. Kanel, associate professor of human services who chaired the Academic Senate’s Academic Standards Committee, which proposed revisions to the old policy regarding grades. “This offers students a motivation. I don’t think that someone who achieves an 88 percent should get the same grade as someone with an 80 percent.”

Prior to making its recommendation to the Academic Senate, the standards committee had surveyed California State University and University of California campuses to see how widespread is the use of plus/minus grading. The committee found that only four campuses, including Fullerton, did not use it. “We felt that allowing faculty members to use the plus/minus would allow more distinction in grading,” said Kanel. “The committee was unanimous in proposing the change.”

Other faculty members believe that the plus/minus system allows them to delineate student effort, or to use it as an incentive for students who may have reached a comfortable “B” or “C,” but with a little additional effort could achieve a plus to their grade.

“This is something I thought we should have had for a long time,” said Atara Stein, professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics. “No grade system is perfect, but this will provide more distinction. Grades should reflect more precisely the students’ work.

”Grades and their values are:
• “A” or “A+” is 4.0, “A-” is 3.7
• “B+” is 3.3, “B” is 3.0, “B-” is 2.7
• “C+” is 2.3, “C” is 2.0, “C-” is 1.7.
• “D+” is 1.3, “D” is 1.0, “D-” is0.7, and an “F” is 0.

A 2.0 or better GPA is required to satisfy certain GE requirements and the upper-division writing requirement. In addition, a 2.0 is the minimum average GPA required for both graduate and undergraduate students to remain in academic good standing.

Faculty members are not required to use the plus/minus system. All faculty members are encouraged to announce in their course syllabuses how they will be grading.