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Faculty Senate Recommends Alternative Grading For Spring 2021 Semester

Penn State’s Faculty Senate met virtually Tuesday afternoon to discuss a number of items, including supporting alternative grading for the spring semester, capping the credit hours students can take, and making educational resources more affordable

Most notably, the senate officially recommended introducing alternative grading for the spring 2021 semester through a 79-62 vote. Alternative grading has been made available for the past two semesters now and aims to address academic problems students may face due to the coronavirus pandemic and remote learning.

It will now move on to the university’s Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education, which will vote later this semester to officially implement the policy.

Should alternative grading be officially implemented, students will have the option to replace earned letter grades in any of their courses with one of three alternative grades:

  • 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.

Alternative grades do not impact GPA calculations. Ideally, they’re used to help students earn credit for their courses and avoid adverse effects of earned letter grades.

Some voting members were skeptical of adopting the recommendation and feared they’d create a precedent that may allow students to take advantage of the unorthodox policy. Students are urged to use the grading options with caution and consider their long-term implications.

Additionally, some worried that students have overloaded their course loads in anticipation of alternative grading being available. Members voiced concerns that students are purposefully taking more credits and harder classes to only later use alternative grading to gain more control over their grades and GPAs.

During the meeting, members also voted in support of limiting the number of credit hours a student can take to a maximum of 24. They also set a deadline on the late add period, preventing students from adding classes beyond the 12th week of the semester.

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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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