The course level and maximum grade average per class:
1000 and 2000 -- 2.5
3000 -- 2.8
4000 -- 3.0
5000 -- 3.2
6000 and MBA core -- 3.4
MBA electives --3.6
To download the policy go to tiny.cc/3blbr and click on "Download the policy" on the left.
As the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business wraps up its first year under a new grading policy, students and faculty continue to question the program's merits.
The policy was designed by a committee of Leeds administrators and faculty to combat grade inflation within the college. The faculty narrowly adopted the policy 41 to 39 last April. It was first implemented in the fall semester.
The regulations include a maximum grade point average per class, which increases with the course level. Grade caps begin at a 2.5 GPA for 1000- and 2000-level courses and increase gradually to 3.6 for MBA electives.
Administrators support the policy despite initial complications, because they feel the policy will be better implemented and accepted throughout Leeds as faculty and students better understand its intent. While the faculty continues to debate the implementation and effectiveness of the policy, the general consensus among students is that it is unnecessary and unfair.
Previously, Leeds used a similar guideline, which provided "suggested" grading practices to faculty but was not strongly enforced, said Cal Duncan, associate dean of undergraduate programs. The earlier guidelines recommended a range in which a class's average grade point should fall, instead of the new policy's cap.
"Most of the faculty already follow the previous guidelines in regards to grading and won't be affected by the new policy," Duncan said. "The ones who will be affected are the teachers who were giving out higher grades than what the Leeds school typically expects. They will have to adjust their course work by making it more rigorous so students' grades reflect the policy requirements."
Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences Darna Dufour said her college has a similar recommended policy that is department specific but does not include specific grade suggestions.
"Our focus is on making courses more challenging for students," Dufour said. "With a grade-specific policy like Leeds, I'd be afraid you would potentially punish students with lower grades than what they deserve."
The Leeds policy was intended to create consistency among course demands and to reverse recent grade inflation, a problem that has gained attention at universities nationwide, Duncan said.
National statistics show that grades have consistently increased since 2003, which could be the result of easier courses and lazy teachers, according to gradeinflation.com. But Leeds does not mirror the national inflation rates; its average grade point average, or GPA, has fluctuated only slightly between semesters, according to university statistics.
Between the spring of 2003 and the spring of 2009 overall GPAs for Leeds students increased only twice, while maintaining a fairly consistent average ranging from 3.0 to 3.07, according to CU's Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis Web site.
Grades for the fall of 2009, the first semester Leeds courses were required to meet the new policy, dropped to 2.99, the lowest Leeds GPA since 2001, according to the reports.
Duncan suspects the decrease is due to more challenging classes, though other faculty members speculate the lower GPA is a result of poor planning by professors.
At least one professor dropped student's grades unfairly at the end of the fall semester, because the class GPA did not fall under his course's maximum allowable level as stated in the new policy, Duncan said.
"It's unfortunate, and we do not condone their (the teacher's) behavior," he said.
Despite there being only the one known instance of "unfair grade modifications," some professors were granted exceptions for class grades that did not fall under the cap, Duncan said. Exceptions also were made for classes with fewer than 40 students because of complaints from faculty and students.
After spring semester final grades are posted, Leeds administrators will review the effects of the policy this school year and consider adjustments, Duncan said.Leeds finance instructor Jeffrey Sandri said he supports the overall intent of the policy but feels the problem is in the execution.
"They compare classes that are all different, with various workloads, and put them under the same restrictions," Sandri said. "It would be the same as grading engineering majors versus arts and sciences. Engineering classes are much harder, so it (a policy like Leeds') forces students to get the same grades when their workload may be much heavier."
While some students are likely using the new policy as a scapegoat to explain their poor grades, it does seem that some students' grades have and will be unfairly reduced because of the new policy, Sandri said.
"If a student has earned an A they should get an A despite the policy," Sandri said.
Sandri said he considers himself a tough but fair grader. In order to meet the new requirements, he adjusted the final exam if necessary to get the results he needs.
"I can make the final really difficult if I need to bump the overall grades down a bit," Sandri said.
Students said they can see a difference in the difficulty of classes since the policy was instated.
Accounting junior Sarah Adams said that as a result she is noticing stiffer competition among classmates to get their desired grade.
"It creates more competition among your peers," Adams said. "Your not competing against yourself anymore, but you're fighting for grades because there can only be so many As and Bs now."
Accounting senior Scott Tittle said he's always gotten good grades, but lately he feels -- no matter how hard he tries -- his grades are not a true reflection of his work.
"I went into a finance final with an A-minus last semester and made a 100 percent on the final," Tittle said. "I worked really hard to get a good grade on that final, and I still ended up with an A-minus in the class. Obviously, my teacher needed to bump me down to meet the new requirements."
Tittle said he's also concerned about competing for jobs against students from Colorado State University, who may have higher GPAs because they do not have to follow the same policy.
"I just feel like it's making everything more difficult for the students," Tittle said. "It doesn't seem fair, and it's going to hurt the students in the long run because we will have lower comparative GPAs and a harder time getting into grad schools or getting jobs.
"We don't deserve this."