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Faculty Senate Recommends Alternative Grading For Fall 2020 Semester

Penn State’s Faculty Senate officially recommended implementing alternative grading for the fall 2020 semester during a special meeting Thursday afternoon.

One hundred and eight members accepted the proposition, while 36 rejected it.

Following the policy’s recommendation, it now moves on to the university’s Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education. Administrators are expected to vote on the policy on November 5 to potentially implement it before the late drop deadline on November 13.

“We know this pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for many in our community and we are committed to helping our students and faculty succeed,” Penn State Provost Nick Jones said in a release. “Penn State’s student senators successfully advocated on behalf of their peers and constituents with the Faculty Senate. I, and my staff, will work with the Senate and the ACUE to implement this policy for the fall semester.”

The legislation, originally brought to the table by a group of UPUA student representatives, will allow students to choose between the same three options they were offered last spring:

  • SAT (Satisfactory) — This grade is available if you earn a C or better in a course. SAT grades meet all C or better conditions, including entrance to major requirements and prerequisites.
  • V (Pass) — This grade is available if you earn a D or better in a course and is considered to be a passing grade. You’ll still earn credits for courses with V grades. They can be used to meet requirements for which D is an acceptable grade.
  • Z (No Grade) — This grade is available if you earn an F in a course. Zs can be used to replace Fs and will be treated the same as a Late Drop (LD) grade.

To utilize an alternative grade, students will choose to swap an earned grade with one of the three options. Students have up until the last day of classes to change their grades.

“[Alternative grading] allows for an ease of mind and increased mental health,” UPUA representative Erin Boas said. “COVID [creates] a need for having flexibility and a need for having options.”

Earlier this month, UPUA released a survey gauging interest on the matter and found 68.75% of 5,270 respondents said they would utilize alternative grading this semester.

The special meeting occurred due to the fact that the motion to bring this legislation to Faculty Senate’s floor a few weeks ago, originally failed. Had this special meeting not occurred, it likely would have been too late in Faculty Senate’s December meeting to enact the alternative grading.

Had Thursday’s meeting not happened, alternative grading for the fall semester would’ve been a long-shot, as it likely would’ve been too late to enact the policy when the Faculty Senate planned to meet in December.

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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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