Here's a situation: Two friends, both KU students, are both enrolled in an introductory psychology course this semester. After the final, they've both scored, say, a 91.4 percent for the class.
For one student, this is great news. She's gotten an A and 4 whole, meaty grade points to contribute to her GPA. But for her friend, things aren't so rosy: She gets an A-minus, which comes with only 3.7 grade points. That's because they're in different sections of the class, with different instructors. Friend 2 is furious, or at least pretty annoyed, and doesn't talk to Friend 1 for a couple of days.
This is a hypothetical story, with some dramatic embellishment by me, but it's based on stories that KU student body vice president Brandon Woodard says he's heard from some other students.
You see, some KU schools and departments opt to use a plus/minus grading system, awarding fewer grade points for an A-minus than for an A, more points for a B-plus than for a B, etc. Others opt to use a straight letter-grade system: If you get a 90 percent or above, you get the A and all 4 grade points.
But other departments allow instructors to choose which system to use. That, Woodard says, can cause inconsistencies like the one described above, especially in the case of classes with lots of different sections.
Woodard and some other student government leaders are trying to change this, proposing a policy that would require each department to decide on a uniform grading system for each of its courses.
I'd like to check in on this effort at some point and report on it in more detail, but in the meantime I'm curious: Are there any students out there who've run into a scenario similar to the one I laid out above? Or perhaps an instructor who would like to preserve his or her ability to choose a grading system? Or are most people indifferent?
If any of those applies to you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your KU news tips there, too. (I reserve the right to grade your news tips on any scale I choose: plus/minus, straight letter grades, non-numeric symbols based on how it makes me feel, which television character I think your news tip most resembles, etc.)
EDIT (8:25 a.m. Thursday): Brandon Woodard, as you may know, is KU's student body vice president. Hannah Bolton is the student body president. Last night I left out the word "vice" in Woodard's title. That's fixed now.