Allow an A+/A/A- grading scale for the spring semester at UVa (A's in all - UVa Edition)

Allow an A+/A/A- grading scale for the spring semester at UVa (A's in all - UVa Edition)

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John B. started this petition to University of Virginia

Currently, the University of Virginia is stuck in a win-lose situation with the grading procedures. The current grading scale, which encompasses the option to opt-out of classes for credit / no credit, has been declared non-beneficial to students applying to pre-professional schools (e.g: medical schools, law schools, graduate schools). Some schools have implemented an all credit / no credit grading scale, which will create a huge burden for students who need to raise their GPA for scholarships, to escape academic probation, or to prepare for the life of the post-undergraduate student (e.g: Law School, Graduate School, etc).

Recently, some student unions at various schools like UC Berkeley have proposed changing the grading scale to only A+/A/A-/B+. Going by the UC Berkeley “Triple A” model, the top 30% of the class obtain an A+, the middle 30% of the class obtain an A, the next 30% obtain an A-, while the bottom 10% obtain a B+. We understand that this grading scale can lead to the possibility of students not working and still obtaining a passing grade, so students at the University of Virginia have decided to propose and create a potentially usable different model in which a 90%-100% is an A/A+, an 80-89% is an A-, a 70-79% is a B+, and a 69 and below is a D or F or not receiving the credit (which can be decided by University officials whether it would be an NC on the transcript or a D letter grade). This will allow leeway to students at the University while also not causing purposeful disregard of academics. In the end, both of the models are admirable and the purpose of this petition is to pass either one that the University deems best that can replace the current controversial grading scale or the possibility of no letter grades at all. These ideas encapsulate the purpose of this petition: to change the grading scale of the University of Virginia on the basis of the Berkeley “Triple A” model or our alternative model. Here are the reasons why students at the University think this is a necessary tool to implement:

A) It benefits all types of students. Those who need their letter grade for this semester will benefit from a reinvented implemented grading scale. For example, despite the terrifying situation we are in, medical schools have declared that they will not allow pre-requisites to be taken for CR/NC. This is unfair to those who are really disadvantaged or experiencing trauma during this difficult time and so a change to this grading policy would ease these stresses.

B) It benefits international students and students at different time zones, who potentially have different schedules now that the online classes take place in their home situation. It can also benefit those who thrive more in a collegiate campus setting than their home situation which could be unknown to professors or deans, thus could potentially take a toll on their current grades. 

C) Most importantly of all, it is imperative that one should prioritize their health and well-being during times of crisis like these, whether that be physically or mentally. Classes and schoolwork may be placed on the backburner due to the current status of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only that, but on top of that, students face potential mental health issues from other confounding variables that all lead to an amalgamate of stressful factors during these difficult times.

Despite the fact this may lead to an inflation in GPAs for the semester, the current grading scale exhibits the same factor that will enable students to opt-out of classes so that they can inflate their GPAs. At the same time, this idea trumps the alternative all CR/NC scale because it doesn’t void grades that can potentially change the outcome of someone’s life because their GPA was not high enough due to one semester without grades.

The number of college students experiencing mental health issues has soared, with survey findings from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors suggesting that 41 percent of college students are anxious and 36 percent are depressed” (https://fee.org/articles/why-so-many-college-students-are-in-mental-distress-and-what-parents-can-do-about-it/ This is on a normal, everyday basis. Imagine what major environmental stressors are being placed on students on top of those who have ongoing struggles with their mental well-being. We, as a university, need to emphasize mental well-being and prioritize the health of our students. We cannot continue like this, especially in times of extreme stress. We need to better accommodate those who may be experiencing a further decline in mental prosperity.

Other recommendations that we ask to include are more lenient grading curves from all faculty. Some professors expect the same from us despite the difficulties and unfairness regarding technology, online assignment/exam submission, communication, etc. This is very unfair to the student’s mental health and does not reflect their performance accurately. As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase exponentially and deaths from the virus approach thousands in the US (https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-in-us-chart-shows-daily-cases-increasing-2020-3 the chance of knowing someone who has coronavirus only worsens. How can the university expect students to function at full capacity when there is so much anxiety surrounding the possibility of losing someone to the virus? While the University does have immense care in the student body, not providing these resources could be potentially dire to the well-being of the people at the University of Virginia. April is said to be the peak of COVID-19 cases in America, which the student body at the University of Virginia will be experiencing along with stressful class deadlines, exams, and papers. Granting this “Triple A” model or our edited version of it will alleviate some stress during one of the most difficult times in our lives.

Overall, the student body of the University of Virginia deserves to experience some sense of normality during these confusing and difficult times in our lives. Transitioning to the Berkeley “Triple A” model or our edited version of it would provide a win-win situation to the students of the University who need graded coursework as well as those who are not receiving any initial benefits from the current grading scale. We implore the University of Virginia to adopt this scale for the sake of the students and their well-being, their mental health, and to alleviate the possibility of conflict between the two different grading scales being considered.

We are willing to talk about modifications of this grading scale or edit it to accommodate the rigorous standards of academics at the University of Virginia. Our request in this petition revolves around a grading scale that will still award a letter grade, but with potential leeway towards the current situation of the world and the combining stressors of sickness, work, and mental health. We are very happy to talk about this subject with any higher-up at the University who is willing to consider one of these models as it is important to promote academics and the well-being of students at the same time. We thank the students and the University officials who are taking the time to adjust to this situation, work with the staff and student body, and ultimately protect the students at the University.

Below is the initial petition created by UC Berkeley:

https://www.change.org/p/students-of-uc-berkeley-support-a-s-for-all-at-uc-berkeley

 

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