Grading system defined

Many students have heard the phrase, “I wish I didn’t have to use these, but .” or “I don’t give them, you earn them.” Grades are a major part of our lives from the first day of kindergarten. But how fair is the grading system at Saint Louis University?

According to University Registrar John Herbert Jaffry, each undergraduate college or school at the University follows the same grading system based on a 0 to 4.0 grade point scale.

An “A” is interpreted as high achievement and intellectual initiative, “B+” as above average, approaching high achievement, “B” as above average achievement, “C+” as midway between “B” and “C,” “C” as average achievement, “D” as inferior but passing achievement and “F” as failure, according to the academic policies and procedures outlined in the undergraduate catalog.

Jaffry explained that there are pros and cons to the absence of minuses in the grading system (i.e. “A-“). A con is that it takes the allowable grades and makes them too broad. This allows for students’ grades to be more spread out, eliminating the Bell Curve, which many instructors look for, Jaffry said. An up side to having minuses is that there are more grades possible, which means less potential for grade inflation.

Recently, Washington University decided to raise the average grade at the law school from a “B-” to a “B+,” as well as loosening the ranking of students academically. The changes will be made over the next two years. The dean of the law school admitted that they were inflating grades, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Grade inflation is a problem all universities struggle with,” Jaffry said.

However, since SLU is selective in whom they admit, and since the average ACT score of incoming freshmen keeps going up, it can only be expected that students will be getting better grades, he said.

He also said that grades mostly depend on the instructor and how he or she determines to run the class, as well as the material taught and how difficult it may be for some students.

Accreditation plays a role as well, placing regulations on grading in schools such as Allied Health. “The School of Allied Health is dictated by an accrediting body which creates different standards,” Jaffry said.

The School of Nursing also has stricter standards, said Kathleen G. Hoover, coordinator of Baccalaureate Admissions. These standards are not derived from accreditation regulations, but rather from more rigorous grading scales that are found in nursing schools across the nation. In the School of Nursing, an “A” is 93 to 100 percent, “B+” is 91 to 92, “B” is 85 to 90, “C+”is 83-84, “C” is 77 to 82, “D” is 70 to 76 and “F” is 69 or below, Hoover said. The school also requires that all courses in the major must be completed with a “C” or above. “We have to assure the public that the students we graduate have the mastery of the information needed,” Hoover said.

Charles Kirkpatrick, dean of Parks College of Engineering and Aviation, said that some aviation courses within Parks are regulated by the Federal Aviation Association, which supplies the instructors with specific grading scales.

“I do know that the issue of grade inflation is at the forefront of everyone’s lives,” he said. If we go with the definition in the catalog, then most students should have “C”s; however, the average at SLU is a “B,” Kirkpatrick said.

If there is a percentage system, many instructors try to write tests to get the right amount of each grade, Kirkpatrick said. Instead, he prefers the curve method where teachers make up the test without scores taken into consideration and then decide the grades after it is taken. “I think it is possible to get good grades in classes and not learn a thing,” Kirkpatrick said. “But unfortunately, no one has thought of an

alternative.”