The Administration has at last decided to investigate the College's marking system. Sargent Kennedy, the Registrar, and Henry S. Dyer, the College's statistician, have been appointed along with other officials to a committee which will make recommendations for revising grading procedure. One of the problems they should consider is the matter of letter grades and their relations to rank list standing.
Under the present set-up, plusses and minuses have much less importance than many people attach to them. B-plus and B-minus both count as straight B's for rank list ratings and for the student's final record transcripts. The man with a B-plus who has just missed an A has, in a sense, been robbed, while a person with a B-minus has been exalted somewhat out of proportion to his talents.
The unfairness shows up in the case of the student who gets three B-plusses and a C-plus for his term's work. When a percentage scale is set up parallel to the letter grade scale and letters are translated into their numerical equivalents (a process which many section men use in arriving at their letter grades) these grades average out to be about an 85. Yet, this man is placed in Rank Group IV. Another student gets four B-minuses, which is about an 81, and he ends up in Group III, which gives him Dean's List privileges. For borderline scholarship holders, who generally must not drop below Group III to keep their scholarship, this inconsistency can have unhappy consequences.
Perhaps even more important than the rank list unfairness is the way the system affects one's final record transcript. This transcript is one of the essential factors in admission to graduate schools which, like the Scholarship Committee, will not even consider men below a certain academic group. The important signs, plus and minus, are ruthlessly excised by the Registrar's 1BM machine so that the student's scholastic picture consists of a set of solitary alphabet noodles without the soup.
Perhaps the committee working on the problem will devise a completely new approach to grading. If, however, it does not plan a thorough reconstruction, and intends to make changes within the existing framework, it should record plusses and minuses so that rank group ratings will more accurately represent a man's effort, ability, and accomplishment.