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The Daily Tar Heel

Proposal deserves an ‘A’: Adding grade distribution of classes to transcripts will provide necessary context for interpreting grades

Adding grade distributions to student transcripts is a great way to add context to a student’s academic performance.

The policy could go into effect within two years if the Faculty Council approves the proposal at its Friday meeting.

With grade inflation becoming an increasingly prominent issue, universities are looking for new ways to differentiate academic performance for top students.

Now UNC can be one of the national leaders on this particular issue. By adding contextual information such as the distributions of grades in a class and faculty grading patterns, universities could better assess academic performance.

Graduate school admissions ought to know when students have high grade point averages because they took classes in which the vast majority of students also received A’s.

Administrators are looking at the proposal as a way to tackle grade inflation.

However, whether this will have an effect on grade inflation, or whether grade inflation is even an issue, is not as relevant as the simple context the proposal could provide.

Inequality among grade distributions across departments has been a major point in the grade-inflation discussion. This proposal could help distinguish differences in performance between those majoring in exercise and sports science, and those majoring in biology where the average grades are much lower.

Some argue that this proposal could hurt UNC students. When admissions officers at a graduate school are assessing two candidates, they might be more apt to choose the candidate from another university than the one whose grades are called into question.

However, grade inflation is already a major issue in the world of higher education.

Graduate schools surely would recognize this national trend when reviewing applicants. Besides, if the University is going to make headway on the issue of distinguishing top students, it has to start somewhere. This relatively innocuous change wouldn’t change the way grades are distributed. It would only provide context to those grades.

As a University that prides itself on having a prominent national reputation, UNC can take the lead on what will surely be a major issue in higher education.

The traditional letter grade is, on its own, no longer a proper assessment for academic performance. Providing this context will only aid in evaluating students.

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