Evaluation and Grades
It is College policy that members of the faculty judge the academic quality of students’ work and assign a grade as a measure of their evaluation. This responsibility may not be delegated.
All work submitted by students for evaluation in a course must be returned to them as expeditiously as possible, usually within two weeks of submission. With the exception of term papers, work submitted prior to the final week of classes should normally be returned no later than the final class period.
It is the policy of Franklin & Marshall College to ensure that student grades are a private matter between student and faculty member, to be shared only with authorized officials of the College, unless the student signs a statement giving permission for his or her grades to be released to a third party, or as otherwise permitted by law. This policy entails the following:
- All graded student assignments must be returned individually to students in such a way as to protect the confidentiality of the grade and the privacy of the student.
- In many cases, it is helpful for students to know the distribution of grades for an assignment without specific identification of grades for individual students. In cases where the instructor believes this to be appropriate to the goals and methods of a particular course, he or she should regularly inform students of the class-wide grade distribution on graded assignments.
- Student grades may not be publicly posted; instead, grades must be communicated individually to students.
The letter grading system uses 12 passing grades (“A” through “D-,” and “P”) and two failing grades (“F” and “NP”). Their numerical values, used to calculate a student’s grade point average, are as follows:
|A — 4.00||C — 2.00|
|A- — 3.70||C- — 1.70|
|B+ — 3.30||D+ — 1.30|
|B — 3.00||D — 1.00|
|B- — 2.70||D- — 0.70|
|C+ — 2.30||F — 0.00|
“P” (Pass) and “NP” (No Pass) grades are not used in calculating a student’s grade point average.
The following definitions offer verbal descriptions of the value of grades:
A, A- = EXCELLENT. Work of consistently high standard, showing distinction.
B+, B, B- = GOOD. Work showing superiority in such qualities as organization, accuracy, originality, understanding and insight.
C+, C, C- = SATISFACTORY. Work that fulfills essential requirements in quality and quantity and meets the acceptable standard for graduation from Franklin & Marshall College.
D+, D, D- = PASSING. Work that falls below the acceptable grade point average standard for graduation, yet is deserving of credit in the course.
F, NP = FAILING. Work undeserving of credit in the course. An “NP” grade does not affect a student’s grade point average.
I = INCOMPLETE: see the following section.
NC = NO CREDIT (for activities offered on a non-credit basis).
NG = NO GRADE. A temporary mark indicating the final grade has not yet been submitted.
Course rosters do not distinguish between students taking a course on a Pass/No Pass basis and students taking a course on a letter-graded basis. Faculty members report letter grades for all students, including those taking the course on a Pass/No Pass basis. Grades of “A” to “C-“ are converted by the Registrar to “P.” Grades of “D+” through “F” are converted to “NP.” Any questions concerning the Pass/No Pass option should be directed to the Registrar’s Office.
A temporary grade of Incomplete (“I”) is given by a faculty member, only with the prior approval of a College House Dean, when a student is not able to complete the required work in a course within the normal time period. Incompletes are authorized only when there are extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control. An Incomplete is never justified when the student simply has neglected to complete course work on time.
There may be courses in which the content or format make Incomplete grades inappropriate. Moreover, if a student has been absent from a number of classes or has a substantial number of assignments outstanding, an Incomplete grade may also not be appropriate.
Incomplete grades are to be replaced by permanent grades no later than thirty days after the end of the final examination period in any semester.* This deadline is subject to appeal to the Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs. In cases in which the course work is not completed by the assigned deadline, and an extension has not been requested and granted, the grade of “I” may be automatically converted to an “F” in the Registrar’s office.
*For 2020-2021, Incomplete grades for either module must be replaced by permanent grades no later than thirty days after the end of the semester.
Grades are reported to students through their transcripts through Inside F&M. In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Franklin & Marshall College does not automatically send grades to parents. Students may authorize the regular release of grades to their parents by signing a formal release form available in the Registrar’s Office. Transcripts may be withheld from the student if the student has an outstanding balance with the College.
All full-time students are ranked by cumulative grade point average at the end of each semester according to their anticipated graduation year as determined by the Registrar’s Office. When students graduate, they are ranked with all other students who were awarded degrees at the same time. Rank in class is printed on students’ official transcripts only after they have graduated.
Official transcripts are released by the Registrar’s Office to designated parties upon written request by the student. Current students may make these requests through Inside F&M, or in person in the Registrar’s Office. Transcripts are generally mailed within three working days of the receipt of the request. Students requiring same day service may be charged a fee. Former students may request a transcript by mailing or faxing the request form found at www.fandm.edu/registrar.
Official transcripts released directly to the student will be marked as such. There is no fee for this service if fewer than ten transcripts per academic year are requested. This service may be denied if the student or former student has an outstanding balance with the College or if there is a pending disciplinary matter.
After a student’s course grade is officially recorded, a change may be made only with the approval of the Committee on Academic Status through a petition from the faculty member stating good and sufficient reason for the change. Grade changes may not be requested on the basis of student work submitted after the official grading deadline.
A significant part of the Committee on Academic Status’ rationale is that a change in a student’s grade should be made only after grades for all students enrolled in that course have been reviewed, and the instructor is reasonably sure that no other student is affected unjustly by not having had an equivalent review of his or her reported grade.
The petition submitted by an instructor should include both an explanation of the reasons why the change is required and a description of how discrimination against other students has been prevented. A grade change petition form is available in the Registrar’s Office.
Students are entitled to objective, professional evaluation of their academic work and to fair, equitable treatment in the course of their academic relationships with members of the faculty. These criteria are observed by members of the Franklin & Marshall faculty as a part of their professional responsibilities. Misunderstandings have traditionally been resolved by direct discussion between students and professors, and this manner of resolving problems is normally both appropriate and sufficient. Should a student believe that he or she has a legitimate grievance regarding his or her grade for a course, the first step is thus to consult directly with the instructor for the course. Instructors may have explicit guidelines for how these appeals are to be registered, and students should follow those guidelines if they exist.
If the student then believes that the grievance has not been reconciled by this direct communication, he or she may pursue the matter by consultation with the department or program chair. In these instances, the student shall in a written statement provide a full, fair account of the incident or circumstances giving rise to the grievance. The chair shall review the statement, talk or meet with the student, and talk with the professor. (Note: if the department or program chair is also the instructor for the course, the student should consult directly with the Office of the Provost.) If, after this review, the chair finds that the matter does not merit further consideration, the chair shall inform the student and the professor of this conclusion.
If, however, the chair finds that the matter is not comprehended in established College regulations or for other reason merits further consideration, the chair will bring the matter to the Provost (or Provost’s designee). If an instructor is no longer employed by the College, and does not respond to inquiries from the student and the department chair in a reasonable amount of time, the chair shall automatically bring the matter to the attention of the Provost (or designee). In addition, a student may appeal the department chair’s decision not to pursue a complaint to the Office of the Provost.
In all cases where such a complaint about a grade reaches the Office of the Provost, the following procedure shall apply. The Provost (or his/her designee) shall consult with the department chair, and together they will review the student’s statement, the conversations, and any other materials they deem necessary. The Provost (or designee) will also hold a direct conversation with the student, if the student so wishes, and with the professor if deemed necessary. The chair and the Provost (or designee) shall then jointly determine a resolution of the matter (which shall be submitted to the Provost in cases where the Provost him- or herself was not a party to the discussions). In all such cases, only the Provost has the ultimate authority to approve grade changes, and the Provost’s decision shall be considered final. The Office of the Provost shall in all cases be mindful of the principles contained in the College’s Statement of Academic Freedom and Tenure. If, in the judgment of the Provost, the grievance is of such gravity that its resolution would have an impact on the welfare of students generally or on the conduct of professional responsibilities in the College, she or he may consult with the Professional Standards Committee and/or the College’s General Counsel.