Change grading system to rubric or do not change it

Kathy Kroeger

The argument raging around plus-minus grading is continuing much longer than it needs to. Students spoke out against it, while faculty fights for it. The true issue is getting lost in the arguments. Why are we wasting time talking about grading when no real change is going to happen regardless?


The professors that are in favor of plus-minus grading argue that the new system would make grading more descriptive. In reality, it just adds complexity to an out-of-date system. Grades can arguably motivate students, but faculty think adding the plus-minus aspect will make us try harder.


If a professor chooses to grade students vaguely, they need to accept the consequences. That professor just put himself or herself in a tough situation; the grade at the end of the semester might not reflect the quality of work. This malfunction in one class does not warrant a systematic overhaul.


Non-descriptive grades should not be the student’s fault. Turn off the TV and make a rubric so that the students can be graded fairly and objectively on all their work. Even English papers can be graded on a rubric. The issue lies in the desire of the instructor to go the extra mile for his or her students.


College is hard enough without having to worry about getting 100 percent on everything. Half the school would experience a drop in GPA and scholarships would be lost. A truly progressive school would switch to comprehensive portfolios displaying the knowledge and accomplishments of each student, or is that too much work?