GCC will now also give ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ grades

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At this time in 2017, Genesee Community College will formerly introduce the “plus-minus” grading system replacing the old structure that has relied solely on A, B, C, D and F, the College’s Board of Trustees learned at its monthly meeting on Monday night. The broader grading range will include A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D- and F, and “will provide a more accurate reflection of student achievement,” according to GCC President James M. Sunser.

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The process to convert the grading structure has been a multi-year effort that began in 2015. In her report to the Trustees, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Kathleen M. Schiefen explained that GCC is now among the very few educational institutions nationwide that uses the five letter grading scale. In May 2015, the College’s Academic Senate approved the proposal to add the plus and minus letter grades to the College’s student evaluation system, and began the multiyear process to change the grading structure. Expanding the grading system reinforces the College’s number one priority which is student success and completion. Next fall the grading system will break down into the following letter grade to grade point averages: A = 4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.33; B = 3.0; B- = 2.67; C+ = 2.33; C = 2.0; C- = 1.67; D+ = 1.33; D = 1.0; D- = .67; F = failure.

“Using the plus–minus grading scale encourages students to do better by giving an added incentive to keep working,” Dr. Schiefen explained. As an example, a student with a 70 average and another student with a 79 average will both receive a C. However, as students realize that by working a little harder they might receive a C+ they will be inspired to work hard through to the final assignments or examinations.

Plus-minus grading also helps the admissions selection process distinguish between the various levels of student achievement. Programs such as nursing that have strict admission criteria can better determine the students who are most apt to succeed in the more rigorous academic settings.

But introducing the new grading system is a rigorous task in itself and warranted a careful, two-year plan to ensure all departments change over their systems appropriately. From each academic division to the Records and Business Offices, all full-time and adjunct faculty members, as well as every page of the College’s website, the Student and Faculty Handbook, College Catalog, the Banner database system and each and every course syllabus are being carefully culled to ensure a comprehensive conversion to the plus-minus structure.

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