More uniform grade policies necessary for academic fairness

May 18, 2015 — by Caitlin Ju and Amulya Vadlakonda

On the first day of school, you’re flooded with multicolored syllabuses from each of your classes. You immediately check the rounding policies and dedicate yourself to keeping them straight for the rest of the year. Your math teacher doesn’t round up, your science teacher does and your English and history teachers both do, but only between a B+ and an A-.

On the first day of school, you’re flooded with multicolored syllabuses from each of your classes. You immediately check the rounding policies and dedicate yourself to keeping them straight for the rest of the year. Your math teacher doesn’t round up, your science teacher does and your English and history teachers both do, but only between a B+ and an A-.

Or is it the other way around?

At the end of the semester, your Spanish grade is teetering on the edge — you have a 93.27 percent. But is that an A or an A-? In the midst of last-minute cramming for finals, your brain just can’t handle the muddle of inconsistent policies.

The solution to all the madness is almost too simple. A uniform grade policy for each subject would not only be more fair, but would also make the lives of both teachers and students easier.

It is especially important to have consistency within departments. This way, individual departments can still set grade norms, but every student within that department is held to the same scale.

There is no reason as to why there are different grade policies, especially within the same subject.

For example, one APUSH teacher doesn’t have a round-up policy, while the other will bump up grades to the next highest letter, depending on in-class participation. A student in the first class can end up with a B on the transcript, and the other with an A. Not only is this illogical, but it is also unfair.

The first step to creating a uniform grade policy is to make the cut-offs for each letter grade the same in all classes within each subject. For example, every math class should round up to the next highest grade. An A- should be between 90 percent to 92.5 percent, no matter if the class is Algebra 1, Geometry Enriched or AP Calculus BC. Students would remember this consistent policy throughout all their four years, and teachers teaching multiple subject levels would be able to match their fellow department teachers’ policies without conflict.

The second step is to have a single roundup policy. If a student’s grade is .5 percentage points or fewer away from the nearest letter grade, his or her grade should be rounded up to the next highest letter grade. This accounts for the fact that most colleges drop the pluses and minuses from letter grades when looking at transcripts. Students who are caught with an 89.5 are treated the same as a student who has an 80 percent, a grade nearly 10 percent lower.

In short, it is only fair there be consistent grade policies in the same department. Then, maybe students will be able to keep all those policies straight.

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