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Intermediate Grading Experiment Extended, Faculty May Vote in Fall

By Brett Altschul

The three-year experiment in intermediate grades approved by the faculty in 1995 will continue, although the faculty will not address the issue before the end of the semester.

The assigning of intermediate grades with plus and minus designations was supposed to be an experiment, lasting from the 1995-1996 academic year until the end of the summer 1998 term.

"It is not going to be at the next faculty meeting," said Professor of Management Lotte Bailyn, the chair of the faculty. The faculty is too busy with other issues to take it up this spring, she said.

Bailyn said that the experiment would continue in the fall semester. "It's the same experiment," she said. "It's just an extension in time."

The issue will be addressed by the faculty some time next year, she said. However, she didn't know when the faculty would take up the issue. "I'm not sure if [the time] has been set yet."

The evaluation of intermediate grades can wait, with the experiment continuing, without raising any real problems, Bailyn said. For that reason, the faculty leaders and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program decided to delay the faculty's final consideration of the issue.

The CUP, which is overseeing the experiment, discussed the question with the faculty officers, Bailyn said, but "it did not go to a full faculty meeting."

"It was seen to be OK," she said. The faculty officers "agreed this extension is appropriate," she said.

Decision may violate rules

When the original motion was approved by the faculty in April 1995, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Nigel H. M. Wilson PhD '70, then the chair of the Committee on Academic Performance, said that the faculty would definitely reconsider the issue of intermediate grades after three years ["New Grade Scheme Suggested by CAP," April 7, 1995].

At the end of August, the rules of the faculty will officially state that grades should be assigned without plus or minus modifiers. If the faculty continues to assign intermediate grades, it appears that they will technically be in violation of this policy.

Bailyn said that it was not a major problem that the faculty wouldn't be dealing with the experiment until after the date it set three years ago. "The CUPis taking care of it," she said. "They will deal with it properly."

"People realize that it was a three-year experiment and that it needs a resolution," she said. There just isn't time to look at the entire issue before next fall.

SCEPagrees with extension

Jeremy D. Sher '99, chair of the Undergraduate Association's Student Committee on Educational Policy said that he agrees with the decision to extend the intermediate grading experiment.

"Seeing as we have not had any dialogue... I would not like to see them make the decision now," Sher said.

"I really want to see students have some non-trivial say in what the [CUPsubcommittee on intermediate grades] decides,"he added.

Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures Suzanne Flynn, the head of the CUP, could not be reached for comment.