May: The plus-minus grading system is literally failing us


We all know the feeling. Working your ass off throughout an entire class, only to see an A- when your grades show up on mywsu is a nightmare that many of us face every semester.

Coming out of high school, I thought I was pretty well prepared for college. Having taken honors and AP courses throughout my tenure at West High, the academic side of college seemed well in-hand. One thing that no high school teacher would prepare me for, however, would turn out to be perhaps the greatest rival to my college education. Not one counselor or advisor could prepare me for the hatred that I would soon feel for the plus-minus grading system.

In high school, 90 percent was an A, no questions asked. In college, however, the bar has been raised to seemingly unattainable heights. Not only is the coursework exponentially more difficult, but the A threshold itself has been lifted by two, three, even five percent.

Coupled with additional commitments, students who achieved 4.0 GPAs in high school often find themselves struggling to get any As in the college world — limited instead to an underwhelming A- or B+.

In addition, many students — myself included — have felt the sting of a C- in a prerequisite course. Words cannot describe how humiliating is it to have to retake an entire course simply because your 72 percent was just below the cutoff for a passing grade in the course.

I’m sure that there are some students, those consistently on the plus side of a grade, that would advocate for the ability of the plus minus system to positively influence a student’s GPA. Additionally, many educators see it as a better metric for truly assessing a pupil’s ability.

I see it, however, as an opportunity to detract from a student’s achievements — to slowly chip away at both their GPA and their morale as they struggle through college and into the real world.

I give the plus-minus system an F. An F-.