Pitzer College’s Spring 2020 Grading Policy Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

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April 15, 2020

Q1: What is Pitzer’s grading policy for Spring semester 2020?

On April 9, 2020, the Pitzer College faculty adopted the following grading policy for Spring semester 2020:

Pitzer will use a default grading system of Satisfactory Pandemic (SP)/No Record Pandemic (NRP) for Spring 2020. Students may, in lieu of an SP/NRP grade, elect to be assigned a letter grade by their course instructor. The deadline for electing to be assigned a letter grade is May 15, 2020. No paperwork or petition will be necessary for students to receive letter grades. Students interested in this option should discuss it with their instructors. Courses graded SP/NRP this semester will qualify toward completion of requirements for majors, minors, and graduation, provided students earn a grade of SP. Letter grades will not be necessary this semester to qualify for honors.

A Satisfactory Pandemic (SP) is defined as given for any grade that would earn a course credit. In other words, anything from A to D-.

Q2: Why was the grading policy changed for Spring 2020?

Like many colleges and universities, Pitzer College has transitioned all classes to online formats. This change was sudden and accompanied by moving most students out of campus housing and returning students from study abroad sites around the globe. As a consequence, faculty and students are facing numerous challenges to effective teaching and learning, not the least of which are new living situations, uneven or unstable internet connections, caretaking and family support obligations, illness and hampered access to usual academic support services and resources.

The Pitzer College faculty changed the usual grading policy in recognition of these challenges and to help reduce associated pressure and stress. In changing the grading policy, the faculty considered a number of different grading systems and tried to be responsive to student preferences expressed in surveys conducted by the Pitzer Student Senate and also by the 5C Students for Grade Equity for a universal grading system and one that offered a “safety net” for student grades. The faculty were also cognizant of the fact that letter grades are important for some students for a number of reasons. Finally, the faculty sought to ensure that the grading system clearly designated that academic practices and grades were different this semester from other semesters, and that students had agency to make decisions in their own best interests and after appropriate consultation with advisers and instructors.

Q3: How will my Spring 2020 classes be graded? What will appear on my transcript?

Unless students specifically request otherwise, Pitzer student grades will either be SP (Satisfactory Pandemic) or NRP (No Record Pandemic). This is the default grading system. There will be language added to the transcript legend that explains this grading system and the meaning of SP and NRP grades.

Any courses for which Pitzer students previously elected to receive a P/NC grade this semester will be changed to the SP/NRP grading system.

Students may elect to receive letter grades for any or all of their classes as long as the request for letter grades is made to course instructors by May 15, 2020.

Q4: How does the SP grade work? Does it affect my GPA?

A SP grade indicates earned credit for the course and will appear on student transcripts. As indicated in the adopted policy, a SP grade is assigned for any traditional letter grade from A to D-. SP grades have no impact on the student’s grade point average.

Q5: How does the NRP grade work? Does it affect my GPA?

Students will not receive academic credit for any course for which they receive a NRP grade, and the NRP grade will appear on student transcripts. Courses for which students receive NRP grades have no impact on the student’s grade point average.

Q6: I understand that I will receive SP/NRP grades for my courses, but what if I want one or more letter grades? Can I get a letter grade in a course?

YES. As stated in the policy, students can elect to receive a letter grade for any or all of their classes. To do so, students should make a request to the course instructor for any course in which they want to receive a letter grade by May 15, 2020. No paperwork or petition is required, but unless their instructor directs otherwise, students should follow up their request for a grade with an email from their official Pitzer email account to their course instructor’s official account reiterating their request for a grade. Students must make separate requests to instructors for each class for which they want to receive a letter grade. The policy makes clear that the student elects to be assigned a letter grade. That is, the decision about using a letter grade scale instead of the default SP/NRP system rests with the student.

Any courses for which students have previously elected to receive a P/NC grade automatically will be changed to the SP/NRP grading system.

Q7: Will the Pitzer grading policy apply to classes I am taking at other Claremont Colleges?

YES. The grading policy follows the student, not the professor or the college. This means that the adopted grading policy applies to all Pitzer students — and only Pitzer students — regardless of which college is offering the course. Likewise, students from other Claremont Colleges who are enrolled in Pitzer classes will be graded according to the policies determined by their home institution.

Q8: Are the other colleges using the same grading policy as Pitzer?

NO. The colleges are using different grading policies this semester. This means that grade options will differ between students in the same classes. Students should not worry about other grading systems. The grading system for Pitzer students is a default SP/NRP grade or a letter grade if the student specifically requests a letter grade.

Q9: How will faculty know my grading policy?

Faculty members will receive guidance from their Academic Dean and Registrar about the different grading policies and how to record grades for their students at the end of the semester. The different grading systems will be part of the grade input process, so faculty across all of the colleges will be aware of the system to use for Pitzer students.

Q10: My major or minor requires some or all courses to be taken for a letter grade. Does that mean I have to elect a letter grade for those courses?

NO, at least not for Pitzer majors and minors. For Spring 2020 semester, these requirements are waived at Pitzer. Students must receive a SP grade for courses to count toward major, minor or other graduation requirements. Pitzer students pursuing off-campus academic programs should consult with their adviser(s) about the grading policy being used by the college of their off-campus major and any requirements for graded courses.

Q11: How will SP/NRP grades impact honors?

The Pitzer College honors GPA requirement is unchanged. As noted above, courses for which students receive SP/NRP grades do not impact the student’s grade point average. Field Groups have different requirements for honors in a major, but letter grades are not required this semester for any work (i.e., courses, senior project, thesis) to count toward honors requirements. Students are encouraged to contact their field group adviser(s) with specific questions about honors in their major. Pitzer students pursuing off-campus academic programs should consult with their adviser(s) about the grading policy being used by the college of their off-campus major and any requirements for graded courses.

Q12: I was studying abroad this semester. How will my courses be graded?

The default grading system for all Pitzer courses this semester is SP/NRP. Students can elect to be assigned letter grades for courses in Pitzer direct-run study abroad programs; these letter grades will count in the calculation of the student’s grade point average. Students who were on exchange or third-party study abroad programs can also elect to receive a letter grade as long as the partner institution is using a letter grading system. However, consistent with long-standing Pitzer practice, letter grades for study abroad courses from exchange or third-party programs will be recorded but will not count toward the student’s grade point average. Students will simply earn academic credit for the courses they successfully complete.

A student who wishes to receive a letter grade in Pitzer direct-run study abroad courses should make a request to the course instructor for any course in which they want to receive a letter grade by May 15, 2020. Although no paperwork or petition is required, students are encouraged to follow up their request for a letter grade with an email from their official Pitzer email account to their course instructor’s official account reiterating their request for a grade. Students must make separate requests to instructors for each class for which they want to receive a letter grade. Students are advised to copy the Office of Study Abroad (studyabroad@pitzer.edu) on any requests for letter grades.

Questions about specific study abroad programs and grading policies can be directed to studyabroad@pitzer.edu.

Q13: Can I still withdraw from a course?

YES. The last day for withdrawing from a class is May 8, 2020. Completed Withdraw from Course forms should be emailed to registrar@pitzer.edu. The forms are available in the Forms section of the Registrar’s Office website. Students should consult with their adviser and instructor before withdrawing from a class because it may delay progress toward graduation and/or affect financial aid. Withdrawing from a class will result in a “W” grade on the student’s transcript for the withdrawn course.

Q14: Will there be classes over the summer?

YES. Summer Session registration is currently open. All Summer Session classes will be taught online and they are being offered at a discounted rate. For more information, please go to: www.pitzer.edu/summer/

Q15: What are the plans for fall classes?

The situation is fluid and we do not definitively know one way or the other if we will be back on campus and able to conduct face-to-face classes in the fall. Currently, we are assuming that we will return to campus in the fall, although a final decision will be made later this summer and in conjunction with the other Claremont Colleges. You will be informed of that decision as soon as it is made.

In the meantime, students are encouraged to engage in the usual academic planning for the fall semester. Advising days are scheduled for April 20-21, and pre-registration is scheduled for April 28-30.

Q16: What if I still have questions?  Who can I contact for more information?

Students are encouraged to talk to their adviser and course instructors about their courses and grading policies for this semester. Questions can also be sent to the Office of the Registrar (registrar@pitzer.edu), Financial Aid (financial_aid@pitzer.edu) or the Dean of Faculty (dean_faculty@pitzer.edu).