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story.lead_photo.caption In this 2013 file photo, students cross Dickson Street on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville prior to a dedication ceremony for the newly completed Founders Hall. - Photo by Andy Shupe

FAYETTEVILLE -- Students at the University of Arkansas will be able to drop low grades without having to repeat the courses, a policy change a faculty leader said will help students who change their major.

A new "grade exclusion" policy approved Wednesday allows students to omit from their grade-point average up to nine semester hours in which a grade of "D" or "F" was received. Students need a minimum of 120 semester hours to complete a bachelor's degree program at UA.

"The rationale for this is a lot of students do poorly in a course, and then they realize, 'Oh, maybe I'm not an engineering major after all,'" said Julie Trivitt, chairwoman of the UA faculty senate's academic standards committee.

Trivitt spoke before a vote by the faculty senate approving the change.

The new policy will replace UA's "grade forgiveness," which allows students to repeat up to two courses in which there was a "D" or "F" and then have the grade in the repeated course count when calculating credit hours and grade-point average.

Trivitt said the requirement students repeat a course can be financially costly when a student is taking a class no longer required for their degree.

Under the "grade exclusion" policy -- as with the "grade forgiveness" policy -- the original course grade remains on a student's transcript but with a special notation.

The new policy takes effect this fall, but students will be able to apply "grade exclusion" to earlier course grades. Only undergraduate students can take part in "grade exclusion."

In the 2018-19 academic year, 1,725 "grade forgiveness" forms were handled by the university, according to data provided by Dave Dawson, UA's registrar. Some students may have submitted more than one form.

At the faculty senate meeting Wednesday, faculty considered amending the "grade exclusion" policy to allow students to omit up to 12 semester hours from their grade-point averages. The proposal received some votes but wasn't approved by a majority.

The nine-hour "grade exclusion" policy wasn't approved unanimously, but only one "nay" was audible in a faculty senate voice vote.

Trivitt said the idea for "grade exclusion" came to faculty from the office of UA's top academic officer, Provost Jim Coleman, along with the university's Office of Student Success and academic advisers for the university's freshman engineering program.

Last month, Adrienne Gaines, chairwoman of UA's Academic Advising Council, told faculty "grade exclusion" could help students keep scholarship awards, such as the state-sponsored Academic Challenge Scholarships, requiring students to maintain a minimum grade-point average while in college.

Among other large public universities in nearby states, the University of Mississippi also gives students the option of "grade exclusion." In Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas has a "grade forgiveness" policy similar to UA's.

NW News on 02/13/2020

Print Headline: UA adopts 'grade exclusion' policy

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