University Community | News and Announcements

Spring Semester 2021 Updates: Alternative Grading Option

The following message was shared with Ohio University faculty on February 25, 2021:

Dear Colleagues,

Following consultation with Faculty Senate’s Educational Policy and Student Affairs (EPSA) committee and Student Senate leadership, the Academic Policy and Process Group (APPG) has recommended extending the undergraduate alternative grading option for spring semester but with a more robust course exemption process. The alternative grading option allows students to opt into a Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC) grade for undergraduate courses unless those courses are exempt. This will apply to undergraduate courses on the Athens and regional campuses. We thank the APPG, EPSA, and Student Senate leadership for their work on this issue.

While there was consensus to extend the alternative grading option, there was not unanimous agreement. Feedback from EPSA and discussion with the APPG raised concerns around using the S/NC option for specific courses, including sequence courses. We have shared criteria for courses to be exempt from the S/NC policy with the colleges—primarily that exemption requests should be based on evidence, such as accreditation standards, data demonstrating that attainment of a particular grade in a course is predictive of later success in that program, or other discipline-specific information that supports an exemption. Department chairs and school directors should work with their college office to submit any exemption requests, which are due from each college’s Dean's office to the Provost’s office by Friday, March 5. The Registrar will post a list of approved exempted courses on her website for students by Friday, March 12. Students will receive a message from the Registrar about the S/NC option and process once the exempt courses are posted. Note that Friday, March 26, is the last day to withdraw from an individual class (the course remains on student’s academic record with a W grade).

While we have heard concerns about continuing the alternative grading option, we are compelled by concerns about the disruptions caused by illness, quarantine, isolation, lack of reliable internet access, family care, financial hardship and food insecurity, navigating the health care and vaccine systems, and so on that continue for many students. Research indicates that these challenges disproportionately impact minoritized students. We also heard many concerns about the mental health of students, especially after nearly a full year of the pandemic. Our goal is to offer students as much flexibility as possible while maintaining student learning and success in subsequent courses.

Similar to last summer, we will not offer the flexible grading policy during the upcoming summer sessions. While we realize that some COVID precautions could still be in place in the fall, with the return to a more typical learning environment, we do not plan to offer the flexible grading option in fall of the 2021–2022 academic year.

We will share information about the alternative grading option with all students, faculty and staff on all campuses in today's OHIO News email.

Please take care of yourselves and continue to take public health precautions as we wait eagerly for the vaccines to be distributed to all, and as we look forward to coming together again on our campuses in the future.


Robin Muhammad
Faculty Senate Chair

Elizabeth Sayrs
Executive Vice President and Provost

February 25, 2021
Staff reports