December graduates at UNC-Chapel Hill won’t have transcripts that divulge the context for their grades.
Because of a last-minute glitch, administrators say, the university is delaying implementation of its new contextual transcripts.
“The question is whether it’s ready at the end of the spring term or if it will be delayed until fall,” said UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt. “We’ve been doing the major overhaul of our entire system, and so that just takes a lot of time.”
Designed to provide context as a way of combating grade inflation, the newfangled transcript has been in the works for years. It was to have included the median grade of a students’ classmates and the number of students in each class section. Another measure, called a schedule point average, was to show a student’s relative performance for a mix of courses, akin to a “strength of schedule.”
UNC-CH will be among a small group of U.S. universities to adopt truth in grading measures in an era of rampant grade inflation.
A 2012 study from Columbia University analyzed grades for 135 U.S. colleges and found that A’s are the most commonly awarded grade – 43 percent of all grades. A 2009 study at UNC-CH found that 82 percent of all grades were A’s and B’s.
Some current students have expressed concern about the new transcript, which was first approved by the faculty in 2010. Details of the new policy were adopted in 2011, and since then, the university has been working on the software.
“Most of these students hadn’t participated in any conversation about it,” Folt said. “They were very respectful and said, ‘We understand other students did, but we’re the ones whose transcripts it’s going on, so we want to understand it too.’ So I think this gives us time, too, to do a lot more outreach with people.”
Among the details to be finalized, she said, are how the information will be presented so that it is clear to employers and graduate schools that review transcripts.
Andrew Perrin, a sociology professor who helped develop the new transcript, said university leaders will take the time to communicate with current students about the issue.
But he said the university isn’t backing away from contextual transcripts.
“This is a delay in implementation,” Perrin said. “It’s not a derailment.”