Getting an A-minus would harm equity
Out with the “Double A” system and in with the A-plus system!
Harvard University’s Undergraduate Council dumped its position in favor of giving every student either an A or A-minus this coronavirus-affected semester at a virtual meeting Wednesday, because that would be too … competitive.
The Harvard Crimson reports that the student government body instead voted for a “Universal Pass system that preferably treats a Pass as a ‘4.0’ for GPA purposes.” In other words, A-plus in everything but name.
The grading decision is still up to the administration. To that end, the council also voted to “compile different options for grading models and present them to administrators alongside student testimony,” the newspaper says.
The collapse of support for the Double A system, advocated by a student petition started by Harvard for All, came near the end of the three hour-plus meeting, which drew more than 200 attendees online.
The council president and vice president made public their support for Double A on Sunday, and a student survey with more than 3,100 responses showed a majority favored Double A, with “opt-in” and “universal” pass/fail options roughly splitting the rest.
Students testified as to their preferences at the Wednesday meeting, with one promoting the opt-in pass/fail because students would still get “honest feedback” on the quality of their work. An organizer behind the Double A petition insisted the university must “equalize the playing field.”
Yet even as council support for Double A crossed the two-thirds threshold for approval, councilmembers started to reconsider their votes, which can be changed up to a week later.
The vote was rescinded near the three-hour mark, and the council instead approved the universal pass system that “preferably” makes every grade an A-plus. The legislation said this system “would decrease the competitiveness” of Double A and “account for inconsistencies in grading by different professors,” the Crimson paraphrased.
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