Students matriculating to Texas medical schools sure have a lot to look forward to this coming year. First, how will Baylor College of Medicine proceed with a new president? Next, how will the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Galveston continue the recovery process post-Hurricane-Ike? And now, how will the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Dallas students react to a modified grading system?
One of my UTSW-bound friends was courteous enough to send me an e-mail he received regarding the details of this change:
On February 2, 2009, the Faculty Council of UT Southwestern Medical Center unanimously adopted a new grading system for the medical school after several months of study and input from both faculty and students. Both students and faculty alike agreed that the medical school grading system must find a balance between providing meaningful information for residency program applications and the inevitable stress inherent in any grading system.
The new grading system will be effective beginning in July 2009 as is as follows:
The first half of the first year will be Pass/Fail. Students will be provided feedback about performance on examinations so that each student can be aware of how well they are mastering the material, but the final grade will be either Pass or Fail. This change will allow students to make the transition into the new environment of medical school more gracefully.
Beginning with the second half of the first year and continuing through the clinical rotations of the third year, students will be graded using a letter grade system (A, B+, B, C, & F). The numeric cutoffs for grades will be publicized at the beginning of each course. Having grades awarded in this manner rather than a “normative” basis (grading curve) should eliminate any perception among students that they are competing with each other for grades. This change should encourage students to focus on the mastery of material and the collegiality essential in the care of patients.
The fourth year will continue to be graded on a Pass/Fail system.