This fall the University of Minnesota may begin sharing grades by program, instead of by college.
The Faculty Consultative Committee recommended providing this information to the public after years of discussion on problems plaguing the University, such as grade inflation and separating grade reporting between programs in the same college. The specific information that may begin to be published online would include the percentage of students receiving an A grade and the average grade received by academic program or major and by level of course. Though a grade only tells employers, potential students and/or parents so much about a particular major, this information is useful in evaluating programs for grade inflation and pinpointing problems in grade assignments. With so many students in each program, the University community will be able to read trends among programs.
It is an assumption that many of those looking at a student’s transcript already use common understandings of “grades-in-context” information, such as stereotypes regarding different majors. This works with students as well, who may not know how to judge their own grades. This in-context information will begin to more accurately adjust these assumptions.
Grade reporting is especially important with programs that do not widely include courses with curved grades, which provide their own context, though curves would not show up online or in a student’s transcript. It is most appropriate for this information to be reported online and not specifically on a student’s transcript. Because this style of grade reporting is not universally accepted among colleges and universities, there is a real fear that grades-in-context may alter the success — such as hiring rate — of University students. Grade reporting opens a dialogue about grade inflation in a transparent way for the academic community to address.