July 15, 2020
The following information about the grading policy for the 2020-2021 academic year is being sent on behalf of Catherine Epstein, Provost and Dean of the Faculty. If you have questions, please contact the registrar, Addy Free.
Dean of Students
I write to provide some information about the grading policy for the 2020–2021 academic year. The faculty recently considered whether the college should return to the regular grading policy for this year and voted to return to the regular grading policy, with some exceptions surrounding the flexible grading option (FGO) policy for this year. These exceptions, described below, join other measures, including the reduced course load, that have already been extended to provide students with greater flexibility and support this year.
The following is what you need to know:
Under Amherst’s regular policy, students are permitted to use up to four FGOs during their time at the college; students are permitted to use only one FGO per term, and it must be elected by the end of the add-drop period.
Revised Policy for This Academic Year Only
In light of the pandemic, under the revised Flexible Grading Option (FGO), students will be allowed to use up to three additional FGOs.
The additional FGOs will not count as one of the four FGOs that students are permitted to use during their time at Amherst. The use of the additional FGOs will be limited to one course during the fall semester, January term, and spring semester (one regular FGO and one additional FGO may be used for fall and spring, and an additional FGO may be used for January term). See the exception below for students in their final semester at the college.
If used, additional FGOs must be elected after grades are posted. Students who are not in their final semester at the college will have until a date, to be set by the registrar for each semester and the January 2021 term, to decide whether or not to accept their assigned grade, or in the case of any passing grade, to elect to use an additional FGO to receive a pass (“P”) in one course.
Students who have not exhausted their FGOs by the time they are in their final Amherst semester will be allowed to select one additional course (beyond the one to which they are already entitled in their final semester) to be taken pass/fail. (Note that students who are in their final semester at the college, in accordance with current policy, are not permitted to use an FGO in that semester.)
For background information, see the current language about the FGO from the college catalog, which appears for reference at the end of the motion. If you have questions, please contact the registrar, Addy Free [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Winkley Professor of History
FOR REFERENCE, THE CURRENT FGO POLICY IS PROVIDED BELOW.
Flexible Grading and Pass/Fail Options
The purpose of the Flexible Grading Option (FGO) is to encourage students to explore the breadth of Amherst’s open curriculum as they seek to meet the college’s stated learning goals. Students who enter Amherst College as first-years may elect to take up to four of the total number of courses required for the degree under the FGO; transfer students who enter as sophomores may elect to take up to three courses required for the degree under the FGO; and transfer students who enter as juniors may elect to take up to two courses required for the degree under the FGO. Students may not take more than one such course in any one semester. Courses taken in the second semester of the senior year are not eligible for the FGO.
To elect a course as FGO, students must file the FGO form, signed by their advisor(s), with the Office of the Registrar by the end of the add-drop period. Instructor permission is not required on the FGO form, and instructors are not informed if students have elected the FGO option for their course.
Students will have five days after the date grades are due to either accept the grade assigned by the instructor, or, in the case of passing grades (“D” or better), elect to have a pass (“P”) displayed on their transcript for the course. (No grade-point equivalent will be assigned to a “Pass.”) If the letter grade assigned by the instructor is an “F,” an “F” will be recorded. If the student takes no action, the assigned grade will remain on the transcript.
Second-semester seniors who have not exhausted their FGO options may select one course to be taken Pass/Fail. To do this, seniors submit a Pass/Fail form, signed by their advisor(s) and the course instructor, to the registrar by the end of the add-drop period. (No grade-point equivalent will be assigned to a “Pass.”)
In exceptional circumstances, and only once during their career at Amherst College, students who have not previously exhausted their FGOs and have not elected an FGO in that semester may, with the permission of their instructor, academic advisor, and class dean, convert one course to an FGO after the end of the add/drop period.
In exceptional circumstances, and only once during their career at Amherst College, students may, with the permission of their instructor, academic advisor, and class dean, convert one course to Pass/Fail after the end of the add/drop period.
Examinations and Extensions
Examinations are held at the end of each semester and at intervals in the year in many courses. At the end of each semester, final grades are reported and the record for the semester is closed. In conformity with the practice established by the Faculty, no extension of time is allowed for intraterm papers, examinations and incomplete laboratory or other course work beyond the date of the last scheduled class period of the semester, unless an extension is granted in writing by both the instructor and the class dean. Students will not be allowed to register or participate in add/drop for the subsequent term until all grades from their last semester are recorded by the Registrar.
A student who cannot attend a final examination may be granted the privilege of a make-up examination by the instructor in consultation with the class dean, who will arrange the date of the examination with the instructor.