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UI revamps second-grade policy

BY KATHRYN STINSON | DECEMBER 08, 2009 7:30 AM

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Students unsatisfied with their academic standing now have more chances to boost their grade-point averages.

A student can now retake classes after receiving any grades he or she is unhappy with after the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Educational Policy Committee and the UI Faculty Assembly voted to void the rule that required a grade of a C-minus or lower before students could opt to repeat a course.

The decision only applies to students in the liberal-arts school.

The rule became effective on Nov. 18; it applies to any grades obtained while a student at the university, though the person choosing to retake the course cannot have graduated. In addition, students cannot retake a prerequiste if they’ve already taken the subsequent class in the same content area.

The college modified its second-grade-only option in 2007 to include the C-minus or lower grade requirement in an attempt to save lab space and seats in over-enrolled courses. Before this rule, the UI had allowed students to retake classes after receiving any grade since 1969.

Requiring a specific low grade resulted in numerous students purposely failing a course in order to ensure the opportunity to retake them, various UI students and administrators said.

Helena Dettmer, the associate dean of the college, said she was surprised and dismayed to hear students intentionally failed classes.

She supported the decision to amend the option.

“We were very concerned that the policy did not reflect our overall concern for students and our hope that they would succeed,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Original grades remain on student transcripts, even though it’s not calculated in the final grade-point average, which some students were not aware of when they decided to fail a course in order to retake it.

Dettmer noted some graduate schools recalculate applicants’ grade-point averages using all grades, even those from repeated courses.

When changing the second-grade option, the school chose a C-minus as the prerequisite for the option on the basis that a 2.0 grade-point average is the minimum required for graduation. But students applying for admission to selective programs can risk rejection even with a C.

With intentional student failings in mind, UI Student Government President Mike Currie and former UISG President Maison Bleam met with the Educational Policy Committee earlier this semester to communicate student perspective on the policy. They both said UI students often felt pressure to perform poorly to meet the second-grade-only option qualifications and recommended a return to the previous policy.

Officials encourage students to take advantage of the new rule and aim for the best grade possible even if they intend to eventually retake it.

“I’m really happy it went through,” Currie said. “I hope students take advantage of the option, especially those who want better grades.”


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