McKay Coble, chairwoman of the Faculty Council, said the plan was a year in the making.
After the Faculty Council unanimously approved a resolution endorsing expanded grade reports last year, it appointed a committee to create a plan.
Andrew Perrin, associate chairman of the sociology department, served as chairman of the committee. The group drafted the three-pronged policy in an attempt to better portray a student’s performance.
“If the student’s GPA is above their (scheduled point average), then that’s an indication that they did better than the average student would have done in that mix of classes,” Perrin said.
He said instructors will receive a report comparing their grades to those offered by others teaching the same course — and will also show grading trends by department.
Perrin said the policy will also create a publicly available online database featuring a complete distribution of grades in each class.
“Our goal here is to provide full information for grading transparency for each class,” he said.
Coble said the system will help make sense of transcripts.
“If a student has an A, an employer doesn’t know if everyone else had that grade in the class,” she said.
“It’s great for employers to be able to look at transcripts and know what that grade really means.”
Perrin said releasing the information will not hurt students.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say it punishes or undermines students,” he said.
“For every student that it seems to harm because it shows their high GPA was earned in relatively easy classes, it helps another student whose low GPA was earned in relatively difficult classes.”
Perrin said he hopes the policy will encourage students to spend less time in GPA-boosting classes, and that he hopes the faculty reports will promote discussion.
“My hope is ... that administrators will sit down with faculty and say, ‘When you gave 83 percent A’s in the class, did you really mean it?’”
Perrin said other universities expressed interest in implementing similar policies, including the University of Miami and the University of California San Diego. UNC will be a model for the move.
“This will be received as a pretty important educational quality reform,” he said. “Ultimately, UNC will be seen as really being a leader in this area.”
Coble said talk of grade inflation will not stop with the policy, and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney said the issue might still be up for debate.
“Yes, we give high grades at Carolina, but I’ve heard faculty argue that we have better students than at other places,” he said.
“So maybe that’s not so bad.”
Contact the University editor at email@example.com.