Spring 2020 Flexibility on Using the "S by Appeal" Process
Given the unusual nature of the Spring 2020 semester as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IU Southeast Faculty Senate has resolved to expand use of an existing policy and practice to allow students to change their transcript displayed grades posted to the Spring 2020 semester to non-GPA relevant “S” or “P” grades, if it suits their long-term goals and causes no unintended harm. Petition process may begin after final grades have been submitted.
The following are related questions and interpretations/answers. We will continue to add to the list as we receive more questions.
S (Satisfactory) and P (Passing) grade distinctions for purpose of this semester’s application of policy
A term to describe a mechanism whereby students who feel their grade performance in Spring 20 semester was affected by the swift transition to online or other factors related to the COVID-19 response may formally request that their final earned grade be change to reflect the non-GPA relevant “S” or “P” grades, which generally just indicate student passed the class. Normally, if student wants to take a class Pass/fail, they need to make that election before the end of the second week of classes. The way this mechanism works, instructor calculates and records the final grade earned in the grade roster, and then student has until 14 days after the start of next semester to file an appeal to change the displayed grade on transcript to “S” or “P” depending on their actual earned grade.
While we understand the appeal of a one-sizes fits all solution, the reality is that if the University arranges this so instructors may award an “S” grade to anyone who feels shaky about their grade when they ask for it during the crisis of the pandemic, as student-supportive as that sounds at the moment, we could inadvertently burden students with the downstream effects of having an “S” or “P” grade on transcript. The possible areas where a student may encounter friction, difficulty, or loss of benefit, if they have “S” grades instead of the final earned grades on their official transcript are detailed in grid below. IU can control the impact of some of these, but not all.
Issue: Admissions to selective programs Narrative: How will S grades be considered for selective program at other IU campuses or at other institutions?
Issue: Athletic Certifications Narrative: Will athletes be negatively affected or deemed ineligible due to some or too many S grades?
Issue: Exceptions to Extended X Policy Narrative: Will students be able to retake classes with grades of S for a letter grade? Will a grade of S be allowed to replace a prior failing grade?
Issue:Interpretation Narrative: Is a grade of S defined as C or higher, D- or higher, other?
Issue: Satisfying degree requirements Narrative: Degree requirement states B and student received a S
Issue: Students receiving VA/DOD educational benefits Narrative: Most GI Bill and DOD programs, any grade that doesn’t factor into the GPA is a “non-punitive” grade. The VA/DOD will not pay for non-punitive grades so those students would owe back that portion of the GI Bill money and the university would owe back their tuition for that portion. There is a system for getting a one-time exception up to 6-credit hours for this but some students may have already used it or may need it in the future.
Issue: Students using employer-sponsored reimbursement schemes. Narrative: Most employer tuition reimbursement programs require a “C” to pay benefits. IU uncertain how those employers will re-act to “S” grade
Issue: Dean’s and Chancellor’s List Narrative: These semesterly honors are calculated on minimum 12 graded units in the semester. “S” is not GPA relevant. Taking an “S” in one course could make student ineligible for consideration for the semester.
Issue: University Degree Honors Narrative: Consideration for Degree Honors—with distinction, with high distinction, with highest distinction—threshold is 60 graded credits at IU. In case of transfer student, an “S” taken in last semester could remove student from eligibility.
Issue: Professional Licensing and Post-Graduation Admissions Narrative: Some professional licensing agencies require students demonstrate competency by having a specific minimum grade of “C” or “B” in certain courses. Further, some graduate programs similarly want to see proof of minimum grade in pre-requisite courses before admitting into program. How those agencies and other institutions will react to an “S” versus A-D- letter grade on student transcript, IU cannot control.
The reasons IU Southeast is asking the instructors to record a calculated final grade on the roster, then give student opportunity to appeal to change it to a displayed “S” or “P” are two. First, students could rise to the challenge and get an equal or better grade to what they were on track to earn before the COVID-19 response. If student is satisfied with the grade earned, no changes are needed. By asking students who feel their grades suffered as a result of university or regional response to the pandemic. pass through a appeal process, it gives them an opportunity to engage university personnel to evaluate whether taking an “S” or “P” yields unintended consequences in their cases.
For a student to be approved for an S grade display, their faculty-submitted grade in class needs to be C or above. S grades will count toward degree requirements and pre-requisites. Credit hours are earned for the class but there is no GPA value.
Grades of C- through D- may be appealed for a P grade. P grades are not guaranteed to count toward specified degree requirements or pre-requisites but will count toward elective credit requirements. The credit hours are earned and there is no GPA value.
Grades of “S” on a transcript will be interpreted as “C or above” by pre-req and Academic Advising Report (AAR) degree progress checking. Grades of “P” will be interpreted as “D- or above” for purposes of those systems.
They are not. Course with grades of S or P calculate into hours completed, but they neither hurt nor help your GPA.
Yes and no. Since a “P” grade indicates D- or above, that is university passing and so may be used to fulfill elective and most General Education requirements, the exception being Written Communication I (ENG-W 131), which requires a solid C. Some General Education options are also requirements within majors, which generally requires C to apply to major requirements. A grade of S would count toward both general elective, all General Education, and major requirements with minimum C grade.
No. S and P grades awarded in Spring 20 in response to a COVID-19 response-based appeal will not impact the limits for the number of elective courses that can be taken pass/fail.
Absolutely. Earning a letter grade will likely be the best option for the student. If the instructor and student are able to work out an arrangement where the student has the opportunity to end up with a reasonable earned grade, that is an excellent option and good use of the existing Incomplete grade policy.
Only for the better, if it applies. Students whose Spring 20 final grade point averages qualify them to be removed from probation or suspension status, that change of standing will happen. Students whose Spring 20 final grade point average would, in standard procedures, place them on probation, suspension, or dismissal status, those status changes will not be made for Spring 20.
It could, depending on the student’s grade and course credit history. Dean’s and Chancellor’s List require 12 graded credits to qualify for consideration. If student completed 12 credits, but one course had an “S” grade, qualifying credits drop to 9. Similarly, degree honors initial threshold for consideration is 60 graded credits at IU. A transfer student in his last semester who will by end of semester have completed exactly 60 graded credits in IU career opts for an S or P grade this last semester would miss the initial cut-off and not be considered for degree honors.
Financial aid and merit scholarships
SAP rules require students to 1) maintain a 2.0 program GPA; 2) successfully complete 67% of attempted coursework, and 3) complete planned degree program within 150% of program length.
S or P grades do not carry GPA value so will have no effect on the requirement to maintain a 2.0 program GPA
S or P grades are considered successful completion, so will increase credit completion rate
S or P grades result in earned credit hours and apply toward maximum timeframe program length
The Office of Financial Aid (FA) also approves SAP appeals on “contract” with students, expecting them to successfully complete all courses and/or graduate as planned. In their review of Spring 2020 SAP contracts, FA will provide latitude and/or appeal options to students that have had academic progress negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
S and P grades do not carry GPA value so should not have an impact on merit scholarship renewal. S and P grades do result in earned credit hours, which is considered for merit scholarship renewal. If students are unable to meet merit scholarship renewal standards an appeal process with wider parameters will be planned.
Students will need to contact any external donor or scholarship provider directly to determine the impact of S and P grades on continuing eligibility.
Yes, S and P grades still result in a student earning credit hours for a course and will count toward the annual credit totals required to maintain 21C scholarship. Note that ICHE has provided some COVID-19 related relief: “the Commission will waive up to 15 credit hours for students who use either the 21st Century Scholarship, Frank O’Bannon Grant, or Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship during Spring 2020. These waived hours will be added to the Credit Bank once Spring 2020 credit completion data is reported. Students will not need to submit an appeal to receive the waived hours.”
Degree program requirements
An S grade in courses taken during Spring 2020 should fulfill degree program requirements. A P grade may not fulfill those same requirements. Programs may require a course with a P grade (as with an F grade) be repeated to fulfill degree program requirements.
IU Southeast does not know thoroughly or control all these details. That is why, if student is interested in exercising this option, we ask students file an appeal, so can help students identify the right contacts to get answers to external situation specific questions like these.
There is no need to “replace” the S since it has no GPA value and program repeat rules will apply.
For Spring 2020 grade replacement, the originally assigned Spring 2020 faculty grade will be used as the basis for whether grade replacement may be applied. The grade replacement policy specifies that on the second attempt, the student grade must be the same or higher before proceeding with grade replacement. Registrar would verify the faculty-assigned grade on spring 2020 grade roster was equal to or greater than original grade and process accordingly. If applicable, the earlier grade will be “X’d” are removed from GPA calculation while the new S or P will remain on the record, also with no GPA value.
Repeated course Spring 2020 (faculty-assigned grade)
Eligible for grade replacement
No. B- is not higher than B.
No. D is not higher than C-.
No. D- is not higher than D.
This approach is compliant with the current grade replacement policy.
Unique student populations
Not categorically so, since this is a policy that applies to all students and nothing in it singles our athletes for different treatment. However, some athletes whose continuing player eligibility is based in whole or part on a current semester GPA achievement, choosing to opt for the “S” and “P” grades could have impact. Athletes considering the option should consult the athletic department before submitting an appeal.
If a student is receiving the GI Bill™ or Federal Tuition Assistance, receiving an S-Satisfactory grade does not negatively affect their benefits because it will apply towards that course in their degree program. However, receiving a P (Passing) grade could translate to that student being required to return money to the Veterans Administration or Dept of Defense. In short, there could be serious financial implications. Because of this students asking about having their grade changed to the S or P grade option who are receiving Veteran’s Benefit, student should consult the campus Veteran’ Services Specialist in the Office of the Registrar before filing an appeal.
If a student’s tuition is being paid/reimbursed by an employer or other source outside of IU and the student is required to submit grades showing a minimum grade of “C” for reimbursement or sponsorship, then opting for the S or P grade option could have a negative impact. Students could be be required to return money to the payer or may not be eligible for reimbursement. Students considering the S or P option should inquire with their individual sponsor to determine treatment before moving forward with an S/P petition.
Students, faculty, and advisors are cautioned that grades of S or P may not be accepted as transfer credit by other institutions or graduate programs. Having said that, countless colleges and universities are making similar exceptions for Spring 2020 so there is hope across the academy that schools will be lenient.
All IU campuses are providing some version of an S option for Spring 20. IU Southeast and the other regionals along with IUPUI are following similar process of asking instructors to record a calculated final grade, then providing students a process for a considered choice to change that grade to an S or P on their transcript, after grades are final. IU Bloomington is following a different process for S grades only. In any case, S grades in Spring 2020 should be considered as satisfactory across IU campuses.