Arizona State University students have a new reason to study more: Starting in fall 2004, professors can award A-pluses in their classes. It’s part of a new "plus minus" grading system approved this summer by ASU President Michael Crow.
The system — used by many Pac-10 schools and prestigious universities — is designed to push students along by giving out more refined grades.
The idea has been floating around ASU for more than a decade but has proved contentious and difficult to implement.
The Academic Senate cleared the system again this spring, and Crow approved it "after lengthy discussions and careful review," according to a memo he wrote July 17.
The system rewards students for slight variances in a grade.
For example, a 90 percent is no longer a solid A — it’s an A-minus, worth 3.66 toward a student’s grade point average instead of the 4.0 given out for an A.
"It is an incentive system," said George Watson, past president of the Academic Senate, which submitted the idea for the system to Crow last spring.
Some faculty were opposed to the idea of A-pluses, saying the high grades would encourage grade inflation.
But a group of students persuaded Crow to implement A-pluses, saying that students who have labored to maintain a 4.0 grade point average would lose it with just one A-minus.
"I think it is a giant win for students," said Brandon Goad, president of the undergraduate student government.
Still, Academic Senate president Antonio Garcia said that most professors will use A-pluses sparingly.
"There will be just a few students, really, just a handful who are deserving," he said.