Will the new +/- grading system help or harm students?



The buzz around Skyline College is the new plus/minus grading system just doesn’t fit with certain students. However, other Skyline students think it will work just fine for their GPA.

“Nearly two years ago, College of San Mateo discussed changing the grading system to plus/minus grading where Skyline and Canada schools were not passionate about the decision,” said Ray Hernandez, a faculty member who directs the respiratory therapy program at Skyline College.

According to Hernandez, last week the Academic Senate of Skyline, Canada, and College of San Mateo discussed the plus/minus grading system. Each campus had a discussion about the change. Skyline College was not in favor for the change and neither was Skyline students in favor, while Canada and CSM were in favor.

“Skyline faculty supported students who were not in favor of plus/minus grading. Canada and CSM faculty supported their students who were against plus/minus grading,” said Hernandez. “A vote between the three campuses via faculty was taken which showed clear support of plus/minus grading.”

“The district Academic Senate and Student of Association of all three colleges felt they should go back to students to discuss the plus/minus grading.” “It is going to be moving forward by first doing a pilot study.”

“Most colleges are using the plus/minus grading system while San Mateo college district is considered minorities to the system.” “Foothill College is one of the colleges that have used the pilot study.”

“A pilot study would implement plus/minus grading in a pilot program where data will be gathered from the current grading system which is the official grading system where faculty will be reporting plus/minus grading.” “The unofficial data from transcripts will be used to see how plus minus/grading affects students overall in terms of GPA and transferring.” “Fall 2009 pilot study will be implemented for one semester, and then data will be gathered and shared with different constituency groups before a final decision.”

“The new grading system will consist of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, and F with four more points added, says Hernandez.” “Faculty will be the ones to determine what the point spread will be.” “The point spread could affect those who are on the lower limit reaching the minus rather than the absolute or the plus.” “It impacts negatively for those who are on the lower end.”

According to Hernandez, once the system is implemented the prior grades will not change they will remain solid, but the grades from that point on will change. Faculty can still opt out of the plus/minus grading. No decision at this time has been made but, if implemented, Hernandez said he will give his total support.