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University retains A+ but decreases impact on GPA

The rare A+ that dots a Princeton student's transcript is no longer an endangered species.

The University faculty decided Monday to retain the grade of A+, which West College administrators this fall argued should be replaced with an A*.


Though it originally proposed the grade change, the Committee on Examinations and Standing is recommending that the faculty retain the A+, Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel said yesterday.

Two other changes proposed by the committee were approved, according to USG academics chair Jeff Gelfand '01. The A+ grade will be treated as an A, or 4.0, when calculating grade point averages, and professors will be required to write a short explanation before granting an A+.

"[Faculty members] want a method of distinguishing very good work from truly outstanding work," Dean of the Faculty Joseph Taylor said.

The changes will take effect next semester and will not be applied retroactively.

The faculty and the USG said they supported the change in GPA calculation to be fair to students in departments that traditionally do not give the A+. The University calculates GPAs only for internal purposes — such as awarding summer grants or departmental honors — leaving graduate schools and prospective employers to analyze students' transcripts as they choose.

Administrators have said requiring explanations before granting an A+ will force professors to think about their grading choices and provide students with a written testament of their academic achievement when applying for admission, jobs or awards.


Gelfand said the decision to retain the A+ — which has been the focus of intense lobbying efforts — was a victory for the USG and students. "If you got rid of [the A+], you sort of shift the whole curve down," he said.

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