Perimeter College testing new grade system

Students attending the Georgia State Perimeter campuses may start to see a change in their grades with the universities new use of plus or minus in the grading system. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

While Georgia State’s main campus uses a plus/minus grading system, the Perimeter campuses are still using straight grades only. However, Perimeter plans to change that soon.

According to Nancy Kropf, dean of students at Perimeter College, officials at Perimeter are testing the effects of a plus/minus grading system for students in spring 2021. 

Students at Perimeter wondered why there were two grading systems at Georgia State — a plus/minus grading system for the downtown campus and Perimeter’s straight grading system. Therefore, they brought this issue to the Provost. 

“The Provost asked me as Dean to consider a plus/minus system at Perimeter and what that would mean for our students’ GPA,” Kropf said. “Before requesting that the University Senate Admissions and Standards Committee review a proposal for a change, we are doing an analysis to be sure that a new system would benefit (and not harm) Perimeter students.”

There will not be any real change occurring in the Perimeter grading system for spring 2021. However, Perimeter officials will analyze some grades to see how a plus/minus system will work for Perimeter students.

“After [the] spring semester concludes, a random sample of final grades will be analyzed by the Dean’s office that is stratified by academic area to get a representation across all programs,” Kropf said. “The selected courses will have final grades recalculated to see what the distribution would be on a +/- scale.”

Based on her prediction, a change to the plus/minus system would cause some Perimeter students’ GPAs to go up while others’ would go down.

“The analysis will also sample a group of students who are on the margin of Satisfactory Academic Progress to see if the +/- grading system would help, harm or make no difference across their combined classes,” Kropf said.

Testing the plus/minus system helps the officials better understand whether this change of the grading system would benefit the students or not. College leadership will then review the data to determine possible next steps.

Many Perimeter students think the change is good for Perimeter students. Ashley Hunt, a student at Perimeter College, said she prefers the plus/minus grading system. She believes it prepares students to transition into a four-year college with college materials and a more recognized grading system.

“It also gives students more cushion in a grading system, especially now when most people have to take online courses that are typically not taken online,” Hunt said. “I’m not saying that teachers can use that as a slack system because they shouldn’t, but because everyone must put in the work to fuel success.” 

Maryam Vakilzadeh, another Perimeter student, also supports this change and thinks it would be beneficial for students, noting that grades between 60% and 70% will not be an F with this plus/minus grading system. 

Kropf said that if Perimeter chooses to move forward with changing to a plus/minus grading scale, a proposal will be submitted to the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards. The earliest time to submit it will be in fall 2021.