As the University prepares for the implementation of a contextualized grading policy, officials say they are striving to make the new transcripts both accessible and informative.
The new policy, which will provide more statistics on transcripts in an effort to combat grade inflation, passed the Faculty Council in April and was presented to the Board of Trustees last week.
In the board meeting, Chancellor Holden Thorp said the issue has been a problem 28 to 30 years in the making.
Andrew Perrin, associate chairman of the sociology department and chairman of the committee that created the plan, said the new transcript was influenced by the grading systems of Indiana University and Dartmouth College.
But the University is aiming to use a more informative transcript than Dartmouth and a more simplified transcript than Indiana, Perrin said.
Meredith Braz, registrar at Dartmouth, said the college’s system of including median grades and enrollment sizes has pushed faculty members to grade to higher standards.
But the transcript has not been perfect in equalizing grade standards, she said.
“We still do have a problem with grade inflation,” Braz said.
She said students look at the information about classes, which is included on the registrar’s website, to determine which classes have the easiest grading.
“Hopefully they look at other pieces of information too and that’s not the driving force,” she said.
The University’s plan will include a similar database, said Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, in the board’s meeting last week.
While the new system will improve the transcripts viewed by graduate schools and employers, it is aimed at improvement within the University, Perrin said.
“The actual goal is to increase the fairness and accuracy of grading at Carolina,” he said.
During the Board of Trustees meeting last week, members discussed the wide range of grade point averages between schools and departments.
Carney reported to the University affairs committee of the board on May 25 that the GPA in the School of Education is 3.7, while the average among physics majors is 2.9.
But University officials said they do not anticipate serious objections from departments.
Carney said there has not been animosity between departments and schools over the change. Some officials said their grades are not telling in all class scenarios.
Bill McDiarmid, dean of the School of Education, said while the grade point average in the school is high, students are frequently assessed in other ways.
“There’s no correlation between college grades and people’s abilities as teachers,” he said, adding that grades are not completely without relevance.
McDiarmid said a student’s portfolio is more important than a student’s grade point average.
While the policy will be widespread across campus, Carney said classrooms with less than 10 students will not be included in the policy.
“Transcripts are pretty indeterminate on that sort of thing.”
Informing the faculty about the policy and its purpose will be crucial to its implementation, said Bobbi Owen, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I expect there will be a lot more discussion in the fall,” she said.
Owen added that she had heard concerns from the faculty that the new policy would include a quota system in which professors could only allot a certain number of As. Grade rationing is not a feature of the new system.
Perrin said while the University is aiming to implement the policy by fall 2012, it could be delayed.
“It really depends on the registrar’s needs and what the system can handle,” he said.
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