Monday, August 8, 2022

Schools grade policy may change

April 13, 2001

A failing grade can make many students wish they had never taken a course.

For students at the University of Alabama, this dream has been a reality through its academic forgiveness policy - a chance for students to drop up to three completed classes from their grade-point averages.

Thinking of transferring? Officials may tell you not to act so fast.

While Alabama is looking to eliminate the policy in search of better options, MSU officials say some solutions are already in place on campus.

MSU Registrar Linda Stanford said Alabama’s policy may not encourage students to focus on doing well in their courses.

“I don’t know whether the policy would keep students from only looking for classes that would enhance their GPA instead of classes they would really learn from,” she said.

And Stanford said she thinks the university provides enough opportunities to help students with concerns about their performance in a class. Brenda Hunter, associate registrar at Alabama, said the university is looking to extend its drop period, which is currently only four weeks long, as one alternative to the forgiveness policy.

Hunter said the policy, initiated in 1994, has not achieved what policy-makers originally intended. University administrators have decided to review the policy to find ways to prevent various problems that have arisen.

“It gives a student a chance to recover a little bit from some bad choices that resulted in poor performance,” Hunter said. “But the original policymakers never really dreamed that students who were making Cs would want to forgive them.”

In addition, Alabama’s undergraduate departments have treated the use of the policy differently, making it possible for students to be forgiven for a course in one department, but not in others.

Marcie Lathrop, an animal science senior, said she thinks the forgiveness policy is unnecessary, especially at MSU where students have a long drop period.

“So if you don’t know how well you are doing by the middle and you fail the class, chances are, it’s for a good reason,” she said.

The university cleared Lathrop’s records for one semester last year because of a medical problem. MSU’s policy states the student may only drop classes after the middle of the semester for specially approved circumstances.

Matt Herwaldt, a finance junior, said he can see why students would like the forgiveness policy, but he’s glad it’s not available at MSU.

“I’m for hard work and not skipping out on responsibilities,” he said. “And if a student figured a class was too hard, they just might figure they could be forgiven for it.”

Herwaldt said he prefers the opportunity to repeat a class, not just forget about it.

“I think the idea that if you do poorly in a class, you can at least take another shot at it,” he said.

Stanford said MSU hasn’t been looking at changing anything, but she encourages student input.

“Students raising questions and sending them to the Web site is really useful because if there is a policy problem, I want to know about it,” she said. “They are the ones we are here for.”

Students who have questions or concerns for the Office of the Registrar can visit www.reg.msu.edu.

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