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Change in Grading Policy

Dear Students,

The College’s move to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester has resulted in additional, unanticipated changes to the traditional ways professors meet, interact, and assess the work of students.

For the past several weeks, our faculty has debated online and during three meetings held remotely the most appropriate grading policy for online education. This has been a difficult and complicated topic because there is no perfect solution, but all agree that the effect of online education is experienced disproportionately by our students who are learning in varied and often inequitable circumstances. Such inequities are minimized when all students are on campus with the same relative access to the same resources. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent move to remote learning make equal access unachievable for many of our students. The challenge, therefore, is finding an equitable solution for students working in inequitable situations.

Many professors sought student input when classes resumed remotely after break, and students also were divided on the best approach. Some students, especially those with postgraduate plans, told us they preferred to continue receiving grades; others were concerned how a change might affect financial aid or other qualifying restrictions imposed by outside agencies. The registrar and financial aid director, among others, offered guidance and reassurance.

Our faculty also reviewed changes already adopted by other colleges and considered multiple grading options, including maintaining our existing practice, adopting a universal credit/no credit system, or a hybrid system that allows students to continue receiving grades or opting for a credit/no credit policy. It became clear early in the discussions, that no system meets the needs of everyone.

Ultimately, the faculty voted to adopt a credit/no credit/incomplete grading policy for all courses except those originally graded as satisfactory/unsatisfactory. These grades will not contribute to student’s GPA, but courses for which a student receives credit will count toward the student’s concentration, minor, and any other collegewide requirement (without adding to the maximum permitted number of credit/ no credit courses). Any student who earns two no-credit grades this semester will be subject to academic probation; three no-credit grades makes a student subject to suspension.

Our faculty engaged this complex issue thoughtfully, conscientiously, and with the short- and long-term interests of students foremost in their minds. I thank my faculty colleagues for their thoroughness and care.

Suzanne Keen
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

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