S/D/F Grading

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In the wake of Grinnell’s decision to transition temporarily to a distance education model, the Grinnell College Executive Council has determined to provide students with expanded access to the S/D/F grading option for the spring 2020 semester. For those unfamiliar with the S/D/F grade mode, it is Grinnell’s version of Pass/Fail grading.

Effective March 12, students may elect to switch some or all of their spring 2020 courses to S/D/FThe deadline to switch spring 2020 courses to S/D/F is Friday, April 10. Instructions for requesting a switch to S/D/F are below.

Expanded access to the S/D/F grade mode aims to reduce student stress during this already-stressful time, while still providing a pathway to fulfill program and degree requirements. While students may decide to continue to pursue a letter grade (A-F) in their spring 2020 classes, the S/D/F grade mode may be a sensible and healthy option, depending on individual circumstances. Students are encouraged to consult with their adviser(s) prior to electing S/D/F.

Spring 2020 Exceptions to S/D/F Policy

The Executive Council has provided College-wide exceptions to several S/D/F policies and procedures, including:

  1. There is no limit on the numbers of spring 2020 courses/credits allowed to be taken S/D/F
  2. Courses graded S/D/F may satisfy major and concentration requirements, including minimum credit requirements.
  3. Individual Study (Plus-2, 297, 299, 387, 397, 399, and 499) and Alternative Language Study Option courses (ALS-100), as well as program internships (GDS-300 or SOC-300) may be graded S/D/F.
  4. A course used as a replacement for a previously taken course, including Tutorial, may be taken S/D/F – with knowledge that the student loses the benefit of improving their GPA.
  5. Students on Academic Probation or Strict Probation may elect to take their courses S/D/F.
  6. Courses graded Pass-Fail and completed via an approved Off-Campus Study program may transfer to Grinnell.

Instructions for Switching Courses to S/D/F

Following is a link to an online form. Submit this form indicating which courses you would like to switch to S/D/F. That is all you need to do; however, if you do not submit this form by 5 p.m. Central on Friday, April 10, your courses will remain in letter grade (A-F) mode. Late requests will not be processed. The form is also available on the Registrar’s GrinnellShare site

S/D/F Grading Opt In Form

Important Considerations for S/D/F:

  • The decision to switch to S/D/F is irreversible.
  • Students earning the equivalent of a “C” or better will be awarded a grade of “S” (satisfactory). The “S” carries no grade points and is NOT computed into a student’s semester or cumulative grade point averages (GPAs.) 
  • A grade of “D” (passing) or “F” (failing) is recorded normally and computed into a student’s GPAs.
  • The Executive Council has approved the addition of a semester-level comment to the official Grinnell College academic transcript stating, e.g. “spring 2020 courses were completed during a crisis situation.”  
  • Instructors are NOT notified and typically unaware that a student has elected to take their course on an S/D/F basis. Given the unusual circumstances of these policy exceptions, if students would prefer their instructors be aware of their decision, for whatever reason, the Executive Council wants to assure students that instructors will be receptive and supportive.
  • For students who elect to switch to S/D/F a course that is replacing (or repeating) any course (including Tutorial) in which they previously earned a “D” or “F,” the “S” grade will not be calculated into the GPA, though the credits will count toward major and degree requirements. Please consult the Registrar’s Office (registrar@grinnell.edu) if you have questions.

There are no expected immigration-related impacts on international students who elect to switch their courses to S/D/F. Also, the Iowa State Board of Education has confirmed that courses taken S/D/F and graded “S” may satisfy requirements for teaching certification/licensure.

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