CSULB students upset by proposed change to current grading policy

Mar. 19, 2021 / By

A woman sits in front of a computer with her face pressed into her hands. Letter grades F, B minus, C, and D plus float around her.

Graphic by Anabelle Custodio.

 

Cal State Long Beach’s announcement of a possible grading policy change has sparked outrage among students as it could potentially impact students’ GPAs, financial aid, and academic probation.

This policy would change the grading scale from an A to F scale to a plus and minus scale. This new grading scale means that a B+ would raise that class’ contribution to your GPA to 3.3 points. However, a B- would lower that contribution to a 2.7 instead of a 3.0. 

This scoring does not apply to an A+ score, which will be considered a 4.0 rather than a 4.3.

The Curriculum and Educational Policies Council (CEPC), which has a say on whether this policy will be reviewed by the Academic Senate, will have a second reading regarding this policy change on Wednesday, March 24th.

“This grading policy is part of a larger system as it was brought up from the issues regarding withdrawals and if the university should have an official policy when it comes to rounding grades,” said Ryan Smith, a former student representative on the CEPC.

The grading policy was previously discussed during a September 2019 CEPC meeting about a revision regarding Policy Statement 12-03, where it was mentioned that the current state of PS 12-03 is problematic, as some students who have unauthorized withdrawals (WU) attempt to receive medical withdrawals (WE) past the withdrawal date in order to avoid returning financial aid fees. 

The conversation about these withdrawal issues escalated into discussion about making the grading system more specific and similar to the rest of the California State University system. 

Currently, CSULB and CSU Fresno are the only two of the 21 CSU schools to have a non-plus/minus grading scale.

Within hours of the announcement of the possible policy change on Twitter, ASI Chief Justice Greg Figueroa and ASI Academic Affairs officer Isaac Julian hosted a Q & A on the CSULB ASI Instagram page in order to clear up some confusion. In the Q&A, Figueroa listed some pros and cons of this proposed policy. 

The benefits of this policy, according to Figueroa, are that GPAs may increase and professors can provide a more detailed review of students’ performance in classes. 

However this policy would also decrease a student’s GPA if they receive a minus grade. The proposed policy may also create issues with academic probation, which requires students to have a minimum of a 2.0 GPA, as a C- grade would be equal to 1.7 and could put students closer to falling below that threshold. This policy would also have an impact on some financial aid and major requirements, as each require a different minimum cumulative GPA.

After learning about the proposed policy change, many students expressed their opposition to the proposed policy.

“A lot of my friends are 4.0 students, but they don’t know if they can keep it up if they do this new grading system,” said Richard Wang, a 23-year-old engineering student.

Seth Segal, a 21-year-old transfer student at CSULB, talked about how his previous experience with the plus and minus grading scale at UC Santa Barbara encouraged him to transfer to CSULB.

It was bad for my mental health,” Segal said. ”If I got a score slightly below my average, I would see that my grade point average changed drastically.”

19-year-old Stefany Gonzalez, a political science major at CSULB, said the current grading policy allowed her to remain in school after facing academic probation.

“It’s stressful to think that if that policy was around during my academic probation, I probably wouldn’t be here right now taking classes and getting financial aid,” Gonzalez said.

This isn’t the first time that CSULB has sparked outrage among students about changes in the grading policy.

In the fall 2020 semester, CSULB students petitioned for alternative grading options where students could opt for credit or no credit instead of the traditional A to F grading scale due to the struggles of online learning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’ve seen a credit-no credit petition with around 20,000 signatures be tossed away by the administration, and it doesn’t feel like the students are being accounted for,” said 25-year-old Carlos Machuca.

Daniel Villarreal, a 21-year-old aerospace engineering major and organizer for CSULB Students United, expressed his disagreement with the way the university has been handling the grading system.

“This isn’t new— unless you’re looking closely at what they’re doing, you would think everything was running just fine,” Villarreal said. “I won’t say they don’t do a lot of good things but there are some critical issues they need to focus on rather than adding something to further stress students out.”

 

ASI will be hosting a second Q&A/discussion on Thursday, March 25th on Zoom from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

To stay up-to-date with this new policy proposal, students are encouraged to sign-up for the ASI student newsletter, regularly check ASI’s Beachfront article or review the CEPC/Academic Senate’s meeting agendas and minutes. Students can also attend office hours of ASI’s student representatives: Greg Figueroa, Isaac Julian, and Jesus Gonzales.

 

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Anabelle Custodio

Anabelle Custodio

Anabelle is a journalist studying Public Relations at the California State University of Long Beach with the hope of giving representation to underrepresented, marginalized, and disadvantaged communities by informing the public of their struggles as well as the beauty of diversity and tolerance.