Credit/No Credit Policy Adjusted in Response to Student Concerns

Following student advocacy, the Credit/No Credit system was expanded, and the decision deadline extended

In an email to students on April 21, Registar Nora McLaughlin updated students on the Credit/No Credit (Cr/NCr) system, originally announced on March 27 and modified on April 8. As with the previous changes, this announcement follows student concerns about the existing system. McLaughlin’s email announced two changes. First, the deadline to change any course to Cr/NCr has been extended to June 22, four weeks after grades are released, allowing students to view their grades before making a decision. Second, year-long classes, including thesis and Humanities 110, are now eligible for Cr/NCr. Previously a source of complaint for students, now any and all spring classes can be changed to Credit/No Credit. Dean of the Faculty Nigel Nicholson clarified in an email to the Quest that, “if a student elects to go Cr/NCr on a year-long class, the whole class (both semesters) will be graded Cr/NCr.” 

Nicholson further explained why the deadline to change a course was extended: “allowing students to move to Cr/NCr after they know their actual grades means that they can make this decision with full knowledge of their options and without them or their instructors having to divine their future performance.” This idea, introduced by a member of the faculty Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (CAPP), has also been enacted by other colleges. In a comment to the Quest, President Audrey Bilger supported the decision saying, “I appreciate the measured approach to decision making resulting from Reed’s governance system.”

In addition to the official changes, CAPP has recommended professors adopt an eight week grading floor, meaning a student’s grade cannot fall below where it was following midterms. On April 14, the Student Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (SCAPP) advocated strongly for a grading floor in a memo sent to CAPP. They argued that it is, “the most equitable alternative because 8-week grades reflect how well a student was doing when we were all still on campus with access to all of our academic and personal resources.” SCAPP announced the decision in a Facebook post on April 21, “We are happy to say that after much discussion CAPP has decided to recommend that faculty use an 8 week grading floor…. We believe that this change, which comes in conjunction with an extended Cr/NCr opt-in deadline that also allows for year-long courses is more equitable and moves towards centering students most impacted.”

In his email to the Quest, Nicholson clarified that this was only a suggestion. “What CAPP articulated around 8th week grades is a recommendation, not a policy. Grading is the responsibility of individual faculty members, and CAPP, as is right, lacks the authority to prescribe to faculty members what grades they should give.”

On April 26, SCAPP posted an update on their Facebook page. They clarified that they “always wanted the 8 week floor to be a policy change,” but CAPP only approved it as a recommendation. Because not all professors have adopted the idea, they asked CAPP to “clarify to the faculty that the recommendation is sooner an expectation than a mere suggestion” but “CAPP unanimously voted down [their] proposal to tone up the language of the recommendation.” 

Students with concerns about grading can reach out to SCAPP, CAPP, and the Dean of the Faculty as well as their professors. Speaking to students, McLaughlin said in her email, “I encourage you to consult with your faculty and your adviser to assist you in making these decisions.”

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