Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is an A+ Too Much?

I recently noticed that a number of universities in the United States, including some of the top schools, do not award the coveted A+. This is a matter of policy.  For example, the top two grades at Harvard and NYU are A and A-, both officially acknowledged as proof of excellence.  You can get a B+, and even a C+ at those schools, though. Just not an A+.  Why not designate a percentage or two at the top of the scale as evidence of near perfection?

I am interested in this as a teacher.  There's at least as much of a difference between a 95% and a 99% as there is between an 85% and an 89%.  For the sake of consistency, it would make sense to award an A+ for a 99% if you're going to award a B+ for an 89%.  There's also something to be said for acknowledge perfect, or  virtually perfect, work.

You might prefer not to use a +/- system at all.  That's the way it was and is for undergraduates at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University.  However, graduate students there can get pluses and minuses, including an A+.

It seems to me that, if you're going to do it like Harvard and NYU, you must have some reason.  I just can't figure out what it is.