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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

PROPOSAL FROM THE EDUCATIONAL POLICY COMMITTEE TO ADD AN HONORARY A+ TO THE GRADING SYSTEM

On behalf of the Educational Policy Committee, Professor Desmond Lawler (professor, civil, architectural, and environmental engineering and committee chair) submitted the following motion recommending that an Honorary A+ be added to the grading system at The University of Texas at Austin. The secretary has classified this proposal as general legislation, which will be presented to the Faculty Council at its meeting on February 18, 2008.
signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The Faculty Council and General Faculty

PROPOSAL FROM THE EDUCATIONAL POLICY COMMITTEE TO ADD AN HONOARY A+ TO THE GRADING SYSTEM

Background:

The Faculty Council recently approved a motion to change the grading system for undergraduates to be the same as it has been for graduate students for the past few years. That grading scale awards 4.00 quality points per credit for a grade of A, 3.67 for A-, 3.33 for B+, 3.00 for B, etc., down to 0.67 for D- (and, of course, 0.00 for F).

The omission of an A+ grade worth 4.33 quality points was purposeful, and reflected two concerns. First, the original motion in Faculty Council was to make the undergraduate grading system the same as the graduate grading system. Second, experience at other universities suggests that creating a grade worth more than 4.00 can hurt students in external fellowship competitions and graduate admissions because there is a tendency for the judging panel to discount the overall GPA, sometimes by multiplying the student’s GPA by 4.00/4.33. In virtually all cases, a student would have a higher GPA with the proposal below than with a system with an A+ worth 4.33 that was so discounted. In essence, the motion below creates an “honorary” A+ grade.

Motion:

  • That the grading system at the University of Texas at Austin be amended to include an A+;
  • That this grade be worth 4.0 quality points (the same as the grade of A) in calculating the GPA or any other grade-related statistic;
  • That this grade be shown on students' transcripts, and
  • That this amendment will only be instituted if approved by both the Graduate Assembly and the Faculty Council, that is, if the grading system is to apply for all graduate and undergraduate courses.

Rationale:

  • An “honorary” A+ visibly rewards students for exceptional quality work without risking any negative impact on students’ GPAs that might have occurred if the A+ were worth 4.33, i.e., a wholesale discounting of the overall GPA by 4.00/4.33 to convert to the standard 4.0 grading scale.
  • The Senate of College Councils has formally requested (SR 405) that an “honorary” A+ be included in the new grading system.
  • Four of the University's official comparison shcools include an "honorary" A+ that counts for 4.0 grade points(as does an A grade). These four schools are UC-Berkeley, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

Distributed through the Faculty Council web site on February 7, 2008. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.