Westmont College considers new, biblically centered grading standards

Simeon Michelson, Capstone Writer

Our Capstone staff recently received an anonymous tip that Westmont College will be considering alternative grading systems for the coming spring semester. The move would cement Westmont’s liberal arts commitment to a whole-person education by pushing both professors and students to live up to universal Christian standards instead of the arbitrary Latin — not to mention Western-centric — letter grade system. 

Propositions for the new grading system must be directly based in Scripture. For example, the proposed “Good Samaritan” exception would allow a successful student to sacrifice their overall grade for a struggling peer. A student with a 98% could lower their score to 88% to raise a friend’s score from 57% to 67%. This rule would teach students to value loving each other over scoring higher than one another. 

Similarly, the “Golden Rule” promotes equal treatment, love and understanding between students and professors. Under this rule, professors would be required to take any exam they give alongside their students, and students would grade the professor’s exam. Alternatively, the “Pilate Policy” would mandate that, before failing any students, professors must publicly wash their hands in front of the class and poll the class on which student they want to fail. This policy would force students to confront the individuality and cutthroat competition inherent to the letter grading system. 

Out of concern that these policies might foster laziness instead of love, the “Thief in the Night” bylaw would require all final exams to be given on a random class day any time between April 1 and May 6.

Likewise, “The Talents” edict proposes that students who score below a 60% should be automatically given a 0%. As in Matthew 25, the falling grades the failing student would have earned will be stacked on top of the highest scoring students’ grades as a reward for investing their talents well. For example, a student who scores 98% would also receive the 43% of a failing student, raising their overall course grade to 141%.

Lest these high scores should lead students to pride, the “Phaithless Pharisees Proposal” suggests that the title of valedictorian and salutatorian be renamed “Whitewashed Tomb” and “Brood of Vipers,” respectively. Furthermore, professors will be required by the “Leave the 99 policy” to focus on teaching the bottom 1% of the class. If a student consistently misses class, the professor must also skip class and search for the student until he or she can be found.

Ultimately, the goal is to abolish the letter system entirely. Current replacements include the Soil System, in which students are categorized based on the receptivity of their heart towards learning. Students would receive either Solid Rock, Scorched, Shallow, Thorny or Fertile Soil designations. 

Alternatively, a more uplifting system would evaluate students solely on requirements from the Beatitudes or Fruits of the Spirit. Upon receiving their graded final exams, students would see labels like meek, gentle, salty or poor — in spirit. 

While it is unclear when the Academic Senate will approve and/or enforce these options, the Senate is open to hearing more proposals from both faculty and students. To submit a proposal, simply write it on a slip of paper and stick it inside a Bible in Voskuyl Prayer Chapel.

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