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New Grade Forgiveness Policy Gives Students A Much-Needed Second Chance

Starting this summer, Penn State is implementing a new opt-in grade forgiveness policy that provides students with new grading options in hopes of bettering their academic success.

Under this policy, students who earn a D or F in a course but repeat the class and earn a better grade, the former would be “forgiven” and not counted toward term or cumulative GPAs. Grade forgiveness requests need to be completed, turned in to an advisor, and approved before changes can be made.

In an example scenario where a student receives a D or F in an entrance to major requirement but then repeats the course and obtains the required grade, they could take advantage of this opportunity to have the failing grade removed from GPA calculation.

While the original grade would still appear on a student’s transcript, this policy gives them a chance at academic recovery and wouldn’t impact academic statuses like academic warnings or dean’s list. Students can have a maximum of 12 credits forgiven and must meet other criteria as well before applying to make the change. This policy will not apply to students who have graduated or those who may have received these grades as a result of an academic integrity violation.

Two Penn State administrators, Dr. David Smith, the associate dean for advising and executive director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies, and Dr. Christine Masters, assistant dean for academic support in the College of Engineering, collaborated together alongside their colleagues to make this policy possible.

“The policy was passed by the University Faculty Senate in April 2018 with the specific rational of providing students who experience academic difficulty in certain classes to return to those classes, achieve great competency of the material, and be able to forgive a grade of D or F from the original attempt of the class,” Smith said. “We want to students to reach the learning outcomes of classes and when they falter, there should be a mechanism to allow them to recover and move forward successfully.”

Another recent grade policy change offers students a chance to opt into alternate grades. However, it is important to note these two policies are separate and the alternative grading options are only for spring 2020 courses through May 29. The grade forgiveness policy is permanently in effect beginning this summer.

“Grade Forgiveness and Alternative Grading are two distinct options in front of students. Alternative Grading is a mechanism to help students manage the uncertainties of the current public health crisis and sudden switch to remote learning,” Smith said.

“Within the context of the current challenges facing many students (ranging from food and housing insecurity, poor internet connections, human tragedy, and economic instability) that are making learning more complicated, the University (at the request of the Faculty Senate) introduced Alternative Grading to minimize the academic consequences of the unexpected challenges facing our students,” Smtih added.

Perhaps the best part of this new policy is grade forgiveness can be used for any courses prior to this year’s summer session and any future courses. Due to the numerous challenges remote learning has posed, it’s certainly a viable option to help students succeed regardless of circumstances outside their control.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a junior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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