Boise State uses a 4.0 grading scale, meaning that the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) a student can have is a 4.0. In many high schools, students have a weighted GPA and can achieve more than a 4.0 by taking college level classes or receiving an A+ in a class.
The current grading scale for Boise State was implemented in the fall of 2006, according to Mandy Nelson, the interim registrar.
“We are on a 4.0 grading scale. If we made an A+ the start of the 4.0, that would make an A worth 3.7 (instead of the current 4.0), an A- would be worth 3.3 (instead of the current 3.7), etc.,” Nelson wrote. “This would essentially lower the GPA of all students.”
Dehra McFaddan, the secretary of academic affairs for the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU), was approached by two students with concerns regarding the current grading scale.
Three students went to ASBSU to see if a change to the weight of an A+ could be changed to balance out an A-. McFaddan met with Tony Roark, the interim provost, to discuss whether changes could be implemented and how to begin the process.
“Grades are already weighted, so I don’t get the difference,” McFaddan said. “We talked about what ideas we would propose for that and then he offered to go to Faculty Senate and propose a presentation.”
Through this project, McFaddan hope to make an A+ equal to 4.33. This will only affect a person’s grade if they have a grade below an A. If a student has an A- or a B+, the 4.33 will then balance out to an A.
“When you think about it, people have scholarships and other activities like sororities where you need that grade point average to stay up,” said Allison Montgomery, a sophomore criminal justice major. “That little change is just enough to make or break my scholarship. Those changes do matter in the long run.”
By having an A+ raise a person’s GPA, Montgomery believes students will work harder in class. If the grading scale change is implemented, student’s previous grades will not be changed, according to Nelson.
Kayla Burrel, a senior kinesiology and pre-physical therapy major, believes an A+ should equal more than an A. She received an A+ in her ASL class but earned an A- in her Chemistry 111 class.
“I worked really hard to get even an A- in the chemistry class and I worked hard to get that A+ in my ASL class,” Burrel said. “Yet, my GPA suffered because of a minus, and I got nothing for the plus.”
Boise State professors have academic freedom to decide how they want to customize their grading scale. Academic freedom is a professor’s privilege to express their grading policy without risk of official administrative interference or professional disadvantage.
“A policy change will be needed because (student’s) professors have the right to academic freedom,” McFaddan said. “Some professors might not even use an A+ and they’re not required to; even the provost office can’t say they have to.”
A policy changes around academic freedom would need to go into effect if the grading scale were to be changed, according to McFaddan. There is no explicit definition for academic freedom at Boise State, and McFaddan is working to make it understandable to students and faculty.
“Because it’s so undefined, it’s so confusing to try to understand and facilitate conversations on,” McFaddan said. “I don’t know if creating those pillars was well received or an idea that can actually be put into place.”
McFaddan hopes to meet with the Faculty Senate soon, but there are preset agendas for presentations and it may need to be pushed to second semester.