June 21, 2024

UT Faculty Senate approves academic policy changes

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Faculty Senate passed three new grading policy changes to assist students affected by COVID-19.

University of Tennessee in early 2020

Photo of Ped Walkway at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Credits: Donna Mitchell

The fall 2020 semester has brought a new set of challenges and trials as students, faculty and staff work through COVID-19 policy changes and regulations.

Many students are calling for academic assistance similar to the grading mode changes that were approved for the spring 2020 semester. This includes a Satisfactory/Credit/ No Credit grading scale.

Bill, 06-20 was introduced into the Student Government Association Senate by Senators Evan Mays and Audrey Robinson. The bill called for students to receive the option of switching to this S/C/NC grading scale which would not affect their GPAs. In addition, Mays and Robinson emphasized that students be encouraged to talk with their academic advisors before switching so they are aware of the potential risks.

It passed in the SGA Senate and from there went to the Undergraduate Council, a committee of the faculty senate that covers admission, retention, graduation and curriculum for the undergraduate classes of UT.

The Undergraduate Council declined to institute this grading policy due to a number of reasons ranging from no financial aid cooperation to limited amounts of time to institute the changes.

However, due to the continuous outcry of the need for academic assistance by students, the UT Faculty Senate passed three policy changes designed to help UT students heavily affected by COVID-19.

Course Withdrawl Extension

Normally students have a certain amount of time to drop a course and receive a ‘W’ in its place.  This means that they withdrew from the course but it will have no effect on their GPA or academic standing.

The Faculty Senate extended the time frame to drop courses with a ‘W’ until Nov. 24 for the fall 2020 semester.

They also extended the deadline to drop for the spring 2021 semester until Apr. 20.

A student has six withdraws that may take over the course of their enrollment at UT. However, the Faculty Senate has updated this so that any withdrawals made during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms does not count toward this maximum.

Individual Retroactive Course Withdrawl Appeal

Students may not be sure of their final grades and do not know if they should drop a class or not. Individual retroactive course withdrawal appeals present the opportunity to appeal to drop a class after the conclusion of the semester.

Students who made a C- or below in an ABC grading scale or an NC in an S/C.NC grading scale may appeal to have the class removed.

This is not a guaranteed process and documentation supporting your decision must be presented. The appeal will be reviewed by a committee and could impact financial aid or the student’s graduation date.

During the spring 2020 semester, withdrawals and the S/C/NC grading scale did not impact a student’s financial aid or ability to use credits towards further education. However, some types of financial aid require a certain grade on a certain grading scale to retain the scholarship. Financial aid sources have not waived these requirements for the fall 2020 or spring 2021 semester.

If a student is granted an Individual Retroactive Course Withdrawl during the fall 2020 or spring 2021 semesters, it will not count towards their overall limit of one.

More information about these appeals will be available in January.

Grade Mode Changes

Students heavily affected by COVID-19 may apply to switch to an S/C/NC grading scale at the conclusion of the semester.

The S/C/NC grading scale was for classes that had an A-F grading scale. For classes where the final grade was C and above students would receive satisfactory, C minus through D minus would receive credit and F received no credit.

Students must be able to provide evidence of extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19. This grading scale could impact a student’s financial aid, graduation date, application to graduate school and more.

One Stop and academic advisors can inform students of the potential impacts of dropping a course or switching grading modes.



Edited by Donna Mitchell and Christian Knox

Featured photo courtesy of  Donna Mitchell