Grades

A. DEFINITION OF LETTER GRADES

The following describes the level of performance for each letter grade designation.  Grades may be modified by plus (+) or minus (-).

Sound scholarship demands accuracy, clarity, precision, fairness in the use of sources, sensitivity to implications and competing points of view, an ability to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, and effectiveness in the use of language. An instructor may identify additional characteristics relevant to a particular discipline. The use of a rubric such as this is meant to produce greater consistency in grading across the curriculum

A grade of A indicates superior scholastic performance. The student

  • demonstrates distinctive understanding of course material by exhibiting the ability to analyze critically and synthesize creatively.
  • applies sound techniques of scholarship in all projects. 
  • relates the course material to other areas of intellectual investigation in ways that show intellectual curiosity, imagination, and sound judgment.

A grade of B indicates good scholastic performance. The student

  • exhibits broad understanding of course material by the ability to draw valid inferences and make sound generalizations. 
  • makes competent use of the techniques of sound scholarship. 
  • communicates ably and with sustained interest ideas and concepts which are part of the subject matter of the course.

A grade of C indicates adequate scholastic performance. The student

  • shows acceptable understanding of course material as shown in committing few errors in fact and judgment when discussing the material.
  • indicates limited familiarity with the techniques of sound scholarship.
  • exhibits interest in the subject matter and some understanding of the concepts and ideas which are part of the subject matter of the course.

A grade of D indicates deficient scholastic performance. The student

  • displays insufficient understanding of course material and an inability to recapitulate facts or make sound judgments.
  • makes minimal or unsound use of the techniques of scholarship.
  • reveals lack of breadth in knowledge and minimal interest in the subject matter even when engaging essential concepts and ideas.

A grade of F indicates unacceptable scholastic performance. The student

  • fails to meet the standards and requirements of the course in preparation, outside reading, and class participation.
  • reveals inadequate understanding of the course material by an excessive number of errors in fact and judgment when discussing the material.
  • fails to use techniques of sound scholarship.
  • shows little or no comprehension of the concepts and ideas which are part of the subject matter of the course.

Since these are general guidelines, the individual instructor should make an effort to define in the syllabus the standards as they apply to the course being conducted.  It might be also stressed that many innovative techniques are available as alternatives to the most common method of evaluation (self-evaluation, class evaluation, project, etc.).

The following are the values of grades and notations that are posted to the student’s permanent record:

Grades:

  • A+, A   = 4.0
  • A-  = 3.7
  • B+ = 3.3
  • B   = 3.0
  • B-  = 2.7
  • C+ = 2.3
  • C   = 2.0
  • C-  = 1.7
  • D+ = 1.3
  • D   = 1.0
  • D-  = 0.7
  • F    = 0.0

The following grades are not computed in the grade point average:

  • NC = No Credit
  • P= Pass
  • W = withdrawal (by published deadline)
  • WP = withdrawal passing (by petition after the published withdrawal deadline)
  • WF = withdrawal failing (by petition after the published withdrawal deadline)
  • WX = unofficial withdrawal (did not attend after first week of classes)

B. GRADING OPTIONS

  1. Apart from the exceptions identified below, all courses at Westmont are graded using a letter scale (A, B, C, D, F).
  2. Instructor Initiated Exceptions:

    1. For pedagogical reasons, an instructor may elect to use P/NC  grade reporting in any class not approved for GE credit.  It is assumed that the same grade-reporting system will be applied to the entire class.
    2. With the approval of the General Education Committee, P/NC grade reporting may be used in appropriate, GE-approved courses.
    3. When P/NC grade reporting is used, the syllabus must reflect this fact.  In addition, departments are encouraged to include a notice in the catalog that the course may use P/NC grading.
  3. Student-Initiated Exceptions:
    1. No student-initiated exceptions are available for courses taken to fulfill the student’s GE requirements (except P.E.A.) or required to complete the student’s major/minor.  Students who have completed all requirements for a major/minor, as determined by their application for degree, may request the P/NC grading option for additional course work offered in the major/minor department.
    2. With the instructor’s approval, the student may elect the P/NC grading option for any other elective course.
    3. The deadline for changing the grading option is the end of the ninth week of classes. The student must submit a P/NC Grading form to the Student Records Office. The faculty signature will verify that the student is currently doing work at Pass level.
    4. The WebAdvisor Section Roster indicates the option chosen by the student.
    5. P/NC registration is limited to four units plus one P.E. Activity course in any term, with a maximum of eight units and two P.E. Activity courses per academic year (including Mayterm).
  4. Unless otherwise specified in the syllabus, a grade of P indicates work at the D- level or better.
  5. Automatic F (NC)

    When a student persistently neglects class assignments or has excessive absences, the faculty member may request that the student withdraw from the class or may notify the student that he or she has been terminated with a grade of F (NC) in that particular class

C. INCOMPLETES

An “Incomplete” is a temporary grade assigned to students who merit additional time because of circumstances beyond their control such as serious illness, accident, or death in the family.  A grade of “I” must be made up within six weeks following the last day of final examinations in the semester, or it will automatically be changed to F.  The following guidelines should be considered when recording a temporary grade of “Incomplete” (I) for a student:

  1. The Incomplete is in the best academic interest of the student and/or the faculty member.
  2. The student will not be given unfair advantage over other students in the course as a result of having six additional weeks in which to complete the work.
  3. The material to be completed can be completed independently, or the faculty member will be available for supervision.
  4. Both the faculty member and the student accept the responsibility of the deadline for removal.
  5. The student is aware of the effect an Incomplete may have on his or her academic standing.

Procedure for giving Incomplete:

  1. The student should arrange with the instructor for an Incomplete in advance of the end of the semester.
  2. The instructor will post the "I" grade, with the expiration date specified by the Student Records Office, on WebAdvisor by the published deadline. See Academic Calendar.
  3. The deadline for removal of the Incomplete is six calendar weeks after the last day of final examinations in which the Incomplete was given. 
  4. An incomplete grade that is not removed by the deadline (expiration date) will be changed to an "F" and will be calculated in the student's GPA. Faculty must submit a Grade Change form to the Student Records Office to remove an incomplete grade.

D. REPEATING COURSES

  1. Students may repeat courses in which grades of D, F, or NC are earned.  Repeats of D courses earn no units.
  2. Students need not repeat D courses in a major unless the major department requires it, since the grade point average can be raised by earning a C or better in any other major course.
  3. It is usually better not to repeat a course in which a D or D- was earned, because the repeat course earns no additional units toward the minimum 124 units needed to graduate.
  4. When a course is repeated where a D or F grade was earned, only the higher of the two grades will count in the computation of the G.P.A.  The course and grade of D or F will, however, remain on the student’s academic record.

E. REQUEST FOR A GRADE CHANGE

A grade change is authorized only if there is a recording or computational error or if an incomplete grade is being removed.  If a student feels a grade is in error, the student should:

  1. Check WebAdvisor to verify the entry on the transcript.
  2. See the instructor to discuss the possibility of error.

If there is an error, the instructor must:

  1. Complete “Request for Grade Change” form, available at the Student Records Office.
  2. Submit request to Associate Provost for counter-signature.

A grade change, when authorized, will be posted to the student's record.  Request for grade change forms are scanned and are retained permanently.

Student complaints regarding grading practices should be addressed first to the instructor, then to the department chairperson, and finally to the Associate Provost.

F. MID-TERM GRADING

Examinations designated as “mid-terms” are neither required nor encouraged.  However, students whose progress is unsatisfactory based on quizzes, papers, class participation, attendance, etc., should be reported on WebAdvisor.  (See the academic calendar for the appropriate date each term.)  Students will be notified to check WebAdvisor and a master list of students producing unsatisfactory work will be compiled and distributed to faculty advisors and Student Life personnel as an aid in counseling advisees.

Note:  Mid-term unsatisfactory grades are not permanently recorded; they are advisory grades only.