Grading System Changes 2020

The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to helping students and faculty navigate the many changes we have had to make to accommodate the challenging situation we all find ourselves in. One of the biggest recent changes is the Enhanced Pass-No Credit Alternate Grading System that is now in place for the Spring 2020 semester. We know that this change will generate many questions during advising sessions and we want to provide a reference for you to consult when answering those questions.

Below are some common concerns that students and/or faculty may have while considering the use of the Pass/No Credit (P/NC) system.

Is this Alternate Grading System Mandatory?
No. This system of grading is ‘opt in’ and not required. Students who want to leave their grades in the normal A - F grading scheme will not need to do anything. Students can decide which grading option they want to use for each class. Those who wish to adopt the new scheme for some or all of their classes may do so via their Banner Self Service portal.

How will cumulative and major GPA be affected?
Any course that a student opts to change to a P/NC grade will not affect their cumulative or their major GPA either positively or negatively. Any courses for which the student chooses to stay with the normal grading scheme will impact GPA calculations as usual.

When and where can students implement this Alternate Grading System?
Students may access this option any time between April 20th and May 17th at 11:59pm via their Banner Self Service portal. Instructions on how to do this will be posted to Banner Self Service no later than April 20th.

Is this an all or nothing option or can I adopt it for a single class?
The system is designed on a course by course basis. You may access your Banner Self Service and choose the courses to which you want to apply the Alternate Grading System. Consider carefully before choosing this option if you have licensure courses.

What about my grade forgiveness course?
A grade of ‘P’ or ‘NC’ cannot replace a letter grade, so you must stay with the letter grade option in your repeated courses. However, you will be allowed to use grade forgiveness again for that course in a future semester if you need to.

Will professors see which students choose the Alternate Grading System?
No. Professors will not know if a student has chosen the P/NC option. They will post their grades as they usually would using the normal A - F grading system. Students will choose which grading scheme they want via Banner Self Service and that choice will not be visible to instructors.

How does this affect my probation status?

  • If you are currently in good standing, but your cumulative GPA goes below the 2.00 needed to retain good standing at the end of the spring 2020 semester, you will not be placed on academic probation.
  • If you are currently on academic probation and your GPA does not reach the 2.00 needed to regain good standing by the end of the spring 2020 semester, you will remain on academic probation but will not be placed on continued probation. This essentially means you are getting an additional semester of probation if needed.
  • If you are currently on continued probation and your GPA does not reach the 2.00 needed to regain good standing by the end of the spring 2020 semester, you will remain on continued probation but will not be placed on academic suspension. This essentially means you are getting an additional semester of probation if needed.

This policy does not affect students that were already on academic suspension at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester.

What do the grades look like in the Alternate Grading System?
A student who chooses the alternate system will be able to see the posted grades in Banner Self Service and they will appear like this: P A, P A-, P B+, ….. P D, P D-, NC . The grades will only show as P or NC on official Appalachian transcripts.

What will my transcript look like?
If you choose to use the P/NC option on a class, only P or NC will show up on official transcripts along with a note indicating the major disruptions the pandemic has caused to the academic experience during this semester. 

How does this affect students needing prerequisite grades for future classes?
The Alternate Grading System does not change required prerequisite grades. In the alternate grading system, each passing grade is posted as two parts. The first part is a ‘P’ to represent passing and the second part is the letter grade assigned by the instructor. For example: ‘P C’ would show up on a transcript as a ‘P’ but the registration system will recognize the ‘C’ part of the grade as well. This allows the registration system to recognize major, minor, certificate and prerequisite requirements. The letter grade associated with the ‘P’ received will determine if the prerequisite is met or not. In other words, if you need a ‘C’ as a prerequisite, you still need a ‘C’ to meet the prerequisite requirements; a ‘P C’ grade acts the same as a ‘C’ grade, except that it won’t affect your GPA. 

How does this affect students expecting licensure?
Any program that leads to external licensure needs to pay particular attention to that licensing body’s requirements and how it is adapting to this situation. Over 200 colleges and universities have adopted some sort of alternate grading system for this semester so many licensing groups are changing some of their requirements. Please check with your advisor to see if there are any changes that affect you. Licensure is an important issue for most education students. The James Center for Student Success & Advisng can provide further information about specific Education requirements.    

Do these changes impact my ‘attempted hours’?
Yes. If you choose the P/NC option and receive a NC grade for a class, that class will still count as part of your attempted hours. If you receive financial aid you should contact a financial aid advisor to determine what might be the potential impacts of a NC grade on your ‘Satisfactory Academic Progress’ (SAP) ratio.  

How does this affect my internship?
Internships will still require a 2.00 GPA. Either grading system can be used by students planning to complete an internship over the summer provided it is not a class required for licensure of some kind. The cumulative GPA will only be affected by classes graded using the ‘A - F’ grading scheme.

How does this affect my plan to transfer to another institution? 
If you plan to transfer out of Appalachian to another institution, be aware of the potential implications. Many institutions only accept a grade of C or higher for transfer credit rather than Pass/NC. Most schools should be coming out with information on how they will handle courses from this semester soon, so check with your intended institution often to see how they will be accepting credits from this spring semester.

How does this affect my plans to go to graduate school?
Some graduate schools require certain grades in certain courses or may want to see an actual grade on a transcript when evaluating an applicant. Generally speaking, having a P on your transcript is not considered desirable. You should monitor the institution where you plan to complete your graduate degree to see how they will be accepting grades from this semester.

Can I change my P/NC selection once I make it? 
Yes. You can change your selection of P/NC if you want to during the selection period. This means you can switch from the A - F grading system to the P/NC grading system and then back again to A - F grading if needed during the selection period. Once the selection period ends at 11:59 pm on May 17th you will not be able to make any further changes to your choice.