Monthly Archives: May 2014

“NC” Grade: Proposed Policy Changes

Spring Term 2014 “NC” No Basis for Grade Conversation

Should we continue to offer the “NC” No Basis for Grade?

Questions/Issues to Consider:

1. What is the purpose of the “NC” grade?

According to COPPS and our grading rubrics:

NC  (No Credit): Issuing a grade of “NC” is at the instructor’s discretion and is used when the instructor believes the student has not participated enough in the class to earn a grade.  It is not meant and should not be used to replace an “F” or “Incomplete”.  Always include the last date of attendanceP, NP, NC, I and U are not used to compute GPA

 2. How common is it for faculty to assign an “NC” grade at Lane?

This chart reflects the number of credit grades awarded and how many were “NC” No Basis for Grade between fall 2011 and fall 2013. Note what percentages of all grades awarded this represents. (College Now grades excluded)

Term # of Credit Grades # of NC Grades Percentage
Fall 2011 39,079  2,764  7%
Winter 2012 38,204  2,671  7%
Spring 2012 35,632  2,791  8%
Summer 2012 12,518  1,134  9%
Fall 2012 35,291  2,650  8%
Winter 2013 34,584  2,438  7%
Spring 2013 31,616  2,328  7%
Summer 2013 10,512  963  9%
Fall 2013 30,975  1,983  6%

 3. Is the reason for assigning an “NC” consistent between faculty?

Some faculty use the “NC” to provide a grade for students who registered, but never attended.

Some faculty use the “NC” to provide a grade for students who registered, attended for some period of time, and stopped attending.

Some faculty use the “NC” when the student stayed in the class, but did not participate enough to warrant another grade.

Some faculty use the “NC” when students ask that they not receive an “F” to not have their GPA negatively impacted.

Could there be other reasons?

 4. What is the impact of earning an “NC” on the student?

The credit associated with an “NC” is used in the Academic Progress Standing calculation, and it can cause a student to receive an Alert 1, Alert 2, or Alert 3 hold if having this contributes to the student completing less than 67% of attempted credits.

Students receiving financial aid and earning an “NC” will not receive credit toward graduation, but the credits associated with it count against their total available to be funded in the financial aid credit limit process.

Students who are receiving financial aid retroactively cannot be paid for an “NC” grade, but can for an “F”.

An “NC” does not calculate into a student’s GPA.

 5. What grade would a faculty member assign instead of an “NC”?

 If the student fails to drop the class by the eighth week of the term, they would receive an “F” for failing to continue to attend and/or not submitting work enough work to warrant a grade beyond “F”.

6. How does an “NC” grade impact Financial Aid?

While the instructions for assigning an “NC” direct the faculty to provide a last date of attendance, this is not a required step in myLane, so it is possible that we could be in violation of the federal financial aid regulations if we pay a student for attending when they were not in attendance.

“NC” grade credits are calculated into the Satisfactory Academic Progress calculation and are counted in the total number of credits that can be used with financial aid.

 7. Do the other Oregon community colleges use an “NC” or equivalent grade?

An analysis of sister Oregon Community Colleges, Valencia College and Salt Lake Community College shows that an “NC” No Basis for Grade is not a standard grade utilized and in most cases it has been retired.

Institution NC Grade? Registrar Comments
PCC No
Lane Yes Recording the Last Date of Attendance for an “NC” is not forced in myLane and is often left blank.
Chemeketa No We used to have an “N” grade and that went away in 2009-10. 
Linn-Benton Yes Our Academic Affairs Committee is meeting to discuss getting rid of X “no basis”, and WP “Work in Progress” grades. 
Clackamas Yes
Faculty input the “Y” and it means Never Attended. It counts in attempted credits On our transcript key it says “Never Attended”
We implemented a “Y” grade (never attended) a few years ago because students who never attended were getting both “W” and “F” grades for the same behavior. Just last year, we told faculty that they must (a word we never use here) provide a “Y” grade if the student never attended.
Mt. Hood No
Rogue Yes “Z” indicates no basis for grade (e.g., you do not attend beyond the first third of the scheduled class meetings). If you attend beyond the first third of the scheduled class meetings a grade for the class other than “Z” must be assigned. 
SWOCC No
Southwestern had a similar grade many years ago (it was a “Y”).
We require faculty to administrative withdraw non-attending students by the end of the 2nd week.  Students who attended, but stop out and don’t drop, get “F” grades.
Klamath No At KCC we have no such grade.  The student typically receives an “F” grade in your situations below.  If the student is not happy, we make them do an appeal for a “Late Drop”.
TVCC No Our instructor’s give students “F” grades; we don’t have a grade for students that stopped attending class. 
Tillamook No TBCC does not have a grade for students who stop attending.  They receive the grade they earn, which is a lot of ‘F’s. 
Clatsop No
Until this past fall term, we used Z grade indicating the student stopped attending, or no basis to award grade.  Not all faculty used it the same, and Financial Aid still had to follow up on every student receiving an F or NC to satisfy Department of Education standards.
We did away with the Z and now require instructors entering an F (courses with letter grade) or NC (used in Pass/No Credit courses) grades to enter a last date of attendance.  The interface for inputting faculty grades requires this.
Salt Lake CC No
Valencia No
Umpqua No We discontinued the use of the “Y” (no basis for grade) about six years ago.  Now, instructors must assign an A-F or P grade.  Any grades left blank are reported to the VP/Deans for follow-up.

 

 

Source Material for Academic Freedom Policy Proposal

The proposal for replacing the “Freedom of Inquiry and Expression” policy with the drafted “Academic Freedom” policy derives in part from the University of Oregon’s recent adoption of a revised “Academic Freedom” policy.

The following case was presented in Learning Council on May 9th.

1. Existing policy on AF confuses several different rights and is too broad.

It confuses AF with freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression, free speech, and free assembly. It interjects a civility clause. To the extent any of these are required, they should be separate policies.

Freedom of inquiry in an academic environment is covered by academic freedom. Freedom of inquiry is the right to pursue research and have access to knowledge and information. It is most often used to protect libraries, library collections, librarians and library patrons, as well as researchers. Academic freedom is usually seen to cover all theses areas win an academic setting.

Freedom of expression, free speech, and freedom of assembly are all protected by the first amendment and are guaranteed in public spaces. As such, there is no need to separately establish policies on these, as they are constitutionally protected in all public spaces and institutions.

What separates AF from these others is that while it is protected by the constitution, it is also broader in some regards (the right to determine course content, methodology, and grading) and narrower in some regards (it applies only to particular roles instructors, students, higher ed institutions) than these other rights due to the academic context. Unlike free speech, etc. , not everyone has the same rights and responsibilities in an academic context. Academic experts (instructors) have nearly exclusive rights to determine course content, teaching methods, grading, and administrators have no rights to intervene unless there is some sort of professional violation (i.e. academic dishonesty, for example). Thus, the need to have an AF policy.

2. U.S. Supreme Court has said that academic freedom is protected speech. However, it has not ruled that AF applies to faculty exclusively. It has said AF means a university can determine for itself on academic grounds:

  • who may teach,
  • what may be taught,
  • how it should be taught, and who may be admitted to study.

Academic freedom involves more than speech rights; for example, it includes the right to determine what is taught in the classroom. In practice, academic freedom is protected by institutional rules and regulations, letters of appointment, faculty handbooks, collective bargaining agreements, and academic custom.[28]

In the U.S., the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” By extension, the First Amendment applies to all governmental institutions, including public universities. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that academic freedom is a First Amendment right at public institutions.[29]

3. However, Academic Freedom is unsettled law, as there a number of conflicting legal cases (non-precedent setting) and conflicting interpretations. For example, proponents of “creationism” argue that AF protects the right of educators to teach creationism in the classroom. While opponents argue that AF prohibits creationism from being taught in the classroom as it is a religious belief and not scientifically valid.

Similarly, various groups argue that AF does not protect educators who promote racial supremacy in the classroom under the guise of scholarly inquiry. While libertarian defenders of AF argue that it does protect such speech as a necessary evil of free and open debate and inquiry.

4. The AF policy recently passed by the University of Oregon Faculty Senate is a very good statement because it is simple, open to interpretation, and open to both institutional procedures and legal challenges for clarification. It does not attempt to resolve all of these issues with potentially contradictory or restrictive wording.

Academic Freedom: Proposed Policy Changes

The current policy is called “Freedom of Inquiry and Expression.”

The proposed policy below would replace the policy linked above.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Lane Community College serves the community by providing programs of learning that enable students to pursue and achieve their educational and vocational goals. Academic freedom is indispensable to promoting the pursuit of these objectives. Open, scholarly engagement lays the groundwork for students to acquire knowledge and develop intellectual skills. The college is committed to providing an environment that supports independent, critical thought in the pursuit of knowledge. Lane Community College assumes responsibility to protect its scholarly community from internal or external influences that have the effect of placing limitations on academic freedom and the freedom of inquiry. .

INSTRUCTION. In all instructional environments, including classroom, laboratory, and online environments, instructors and students have the right to investigate, present and discuss matters, including those that are controversial, free from institutional restraint and reprisal. Matters brought up in a class should be related to the content of the class or otherwise be educationally relevant as determined by the professional judgment of the instructor.

It is the responsibility of the instructor to maintaini a scholarly environment conducive to achieving the learning outcomes of the course. Instruction should be presented in a manner that shows scholarship fairly and accurately; that acknowledges differing perspectives where appropriate; that cites sources of knowledge; and that differentiates personal views from scholarly supported positions

SCHOLARSHIP. All members of the college community including students, faculty, staff, and administrators are free to conduct research and produce creative work, and to share their work with others within the professional academic standards of accountability.

Only serious abuses of this policy that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence should lead to adverse consequences.  Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures.

Administrative Withdrawal: Proposed Policy Changes

The following was presented and discussed at Learning Council Friday, May 9th, and also at Faculty Council the same afternoon.

Motivation: Compliance with DOEd and Financial Aid.  The Federal standard requires students to attend once during the first week.  “attend once” = “participate in one educational activity”

Current COPPS language: “Students who do not attend 50 percent of the class sessions by the end of the first week may be administratively withdrawn.”

Proposed change to COPPS: Will be administratively dropped

Possible new wording also being considered:  Students must attend at least one of the first two meetings of a class during the first week. Students who do not attend one of the first two meetings of a class in the first week will be administratively withdrawn.