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Making the Grade

Three-and-a-half years ago, the Committee on the Undergraduate Program started an experiment in intermediate +/ modifiers on grades. The modifiers were to be internal only, meaning that they would not affect students grade point averages and would not appear on transcripts available to Institute outsiders. Last December, the CUP voted to recommend making the experiment permanent. The Tech applauds the CUP's decision, and we hope now that the Faculty Policy Committee, set to meet in early March, will feel the same way.

The issue of intermediate grades has been one of the most divisive issues at the Institute. Faculty have favored the resolution that external modifiers provide in differentiating students. Students, on the other hand, have generally adamantly opposed external modifiers with the fear that they would heighten the already high pace and pressure on campus and have no real educational value at the Institute.

The Tech believes that keeping intermediate grades internal is an acceptable compromise position between not having them at all and making them external. There is no reason modifiers should be included on public transcripts, and internal modifiers should be enough for faculty in differentiating students. The Tech is pleased that the CUP and administrators have listened to the voice of students in making their decision.

We hope the faculty will accept the current system. We hope that the Faculty Policy Committee will vote in favor of submitting the CUP's recommendation to a faculty meeting, and we hope that the faculty at the meeting will in turn approve the CUP's recommendation again.

At the same time, however, The Tech is wary that the faculty will approve internal modifiers only as a step in an extended plan to phase in external modifiers as well. Three years have numbed students' minds to the period before in which intermediate grades didn't exist at all. We hope that the faculty won't try to start another long experiment a year later to put in external modifiers. Internal modifiers should be approved, and they should remain a permanent fixture at MIT.