Re: [SACC-L] Grading, Changing Grades and Ethics
I don't what term to use for the opposite of a mitzvah, but this is a situation that requires such a word. Students have to
learn to accept their own responsibility. It's a simple lesson in cause and effect--you don't study, do the assignments,
attend class, etc., etc., you don't get the "A". I don't even permit students to bring up any factors not related to their
class performance in any discussion--I cut them off and explain why. It's not that I'm insensitive to their situations, but it
is unethical to take anything other than class performance into account when assigning a grade. As you say, a grade is a
> Recently, I've had a spate of students ask me to raise their grades (they
> were borderline A's) so that they could have a higher GPA for college
> admissions. I was a bit aghast. A grade is a grade isn't it? And if I were
> to change their grades shouldn't I then go back and change the grades of all
> of their classmates who were borderline as well?
> Then my partner suggested that if I changed their grades so as to help them
> transfer into the college of their choice, then I'd be performing a mitzvah
> so to speak. They're motivated to make the most of themselves...and I should
> do all I can (including changing their grades) to help them.
> Your thoughts?
> Leanna Wolfe
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- Thanks to everyone for your reflections. Phil, one of the students in
question was "S" who has followed me around at the various campuses I teach
(I'm a freeway flyer) to continue having me as her instructor. She claimed
that since she'd received an A in the latter classes she'd taken from me that
I should consider changing the first grade I gave her (a B) since that class
almost got cancelled (so morale was low) and no one in that class received an
Since so many students have approached me with such impunity around grade
changing for circumstances quite apart from their actual performance in
class, I'm wondering how often they actually succeed! Or has college
About a year ago I had a student who had otherwise been an enthusiastic class
participant send me a series of character-threatening emails regarding my
unwillingness to change her earned B to the A she believed she deserved.
When I was a student I never dreamed of engaging in such behavior. In my
first year of college I was pretty clueless about how to read/study. I'd
attempt to read books cover to cover with no sense of theme -- main points --
theoretical positions and I routinely got C's. Eventually I figured out how
to study and finished college with much better grades. I do everything I can
with my students to prevent them from falling into the rut I did with
preparatory quizzes, focussed discussion, and study sheets.
Right now I'm pursuing a mid-career PhD and initially was a bit non-plussed
to find out that my school does everything on a pass/fail basis. Part of me
wanted big fat A's on my work...and then soon I settled into thoughtful
discussions with my professors on papers and projects. I wish we could do
more of that with community college students....