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The changes in grading systems

Letter to the Editor

On January 27, 2011


To the Editor:


I am proud to be a part of Lyndon State College as we enter a second century of service to our students and our region and state. In a recent e-mail to the college community, President Moore, who is also justifiably proud, noted that we are "poised for transformation" and that we are "here for our students."


I note her use of the term "transformation," which in its variant forms (transformative, transformational) is the current conveyor of deep meaning in government, business and education. We have gone from "change is good" to "transformation is essential if we are to remain relevant and survive."  Who in his or her right mind is going to quibble with messages of such grave import?


Well, not me…. IF we educators can agree that mistakes are sometimes made and that changing back is OK.  Let me give a simple but important example of what I mean by showing how grades have been transformed since I arrived on campus in the Fall semester of 1982.  I refer to the 1981-82, 2000-01, and 2010-2011 LSC catalogues:   




A+, A, A-   4.0  Superior performance, highest competency

B+, B, B-    3.0  High performance

C+, C, C-    2.0  Average performance, satisfactory competency

D+, D, D-   1.0  Minimum pass, does not satisfy GER or degree program requirements

F                    0.0  Failure

FN               0.0  Failure-Neglect – Assigned by Registrar upon advice of instructor that                                        student has failed to achieve minimum attendance.




A+, A,       4.0     Highest competency

A-              3.7

B+                  3.3              

B                   3.0                Moderate competency

B-                   2.7

C+             2.3

C                  2.0     Satisfactory competency

C-              1.7

D+             1.3

D               1.0      Minimum competency, does not satisfy GEU or program requirements

D-              0.7

F                0.0      Inadequate competency






                        Credit earned

A+            4.00                        Yes

A            4.00                        Yes

A-            3.70                        Yes

B+            3.30                        Yes

B            3.00                        Yes

B-            2.70                        Yes

C+            2.30                        Yes

C            2.00                        Yes

C-            1.70                        Yes

D+            1.30                        Yes

D            1.00                        Yes

D-            0.70                        Yes

F          0.00                        No



I appreciate that we made changes to point value, but deeply regret that we jettisoned  as grade descriptors the terms "superior," "high," "moderate," "satisfactory," "failure" and "failure/neglect." (I do agree that "inadequate competency" had to go. Did we mean to say "incompetent" without actually…. you know….having to say it?).  It seems that we have consciously removed important points of reference, and the resulting system obfuscates a student's achievements. So, if we are truly "here for our students," we might consider developing a grading system that communicates more clearly and meaningfully one's achievement or lack thereof.




Timothy Miles Sturm, Ph. D.

Professor of Education and Special Education 

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