Clarification Memo on CUNY's NEW Flexible Grading Policy, Implementation, and Other Important Matters

To: All Faculty and Staff
From: Celia P. Lloyd, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Tony Liss, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Date: April 28, 2020
Re: Clarification Memo on CUNY's NEW Flexible Grading Policy, Implementation, and Other Important Matters

The purpose of this memo is to provide the faculty and staff with some clarity regarding the implementation of the recently approved flexible grading policy. Additionally, we would like to offer some information on other grading matters, end-of-term processes, and timelines.

Flexible Grading Policy – Credit/No Credit, (CR/NC) Grades

On Monday, March 30, the CUNY Board of Trustees approved the, "Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy for the Spring 2020 Semester".1 This policy applies to all students, (Undergraduate, Graduate, Non-degree) and all courses, whether in the major, minor, core requirement, general education, or elective.2 The policy permits students to request that any earned passing grade be converted to "CR," for "Credit," and failing grades to be converted to "NC," for "No Credit." Neither grade is factored into the students' Grade Point Average, (GPA).  A "CR" grade will satisfy all CUNY prerequisite and major requirements.

As a faculty member, you may be asking a few questions like, "How will this work?" "What do I need to do?" "How can I help students with this process?" The good news is that there are no paper or online applications that need to be submitted. The University is working with CUNYIT on a process in CUNYfirst that will allow students to make the declaration within the CUNYfirst system. However, there are at least three things faculty can do to assist students.

  1. Submit final grades on time. The deadline date for Spring 2020 final grade submission is May 28, 2020. This is a very important date for several reasons. Students can begin to declare the CR/NC option as early as May 162020 but not until after final grades are posted. In other words, students cannot make the declaration now. They must wait until their grades are reflected in CUNYfirst. Once grades are posted, students will have 20 days from the grade submission deadline to make the declaration. If your grades are late, students lose time they need to consult with advisors if needed, prior to making their decisions. The deadline that the University has established for students to declare the option is June 25, 2020.
  2. Help advise students. The attached memo was sent to students explaining how the flexible grading policy applies to them. Nonetheless, students may approach faculty to ask questions regarding the declaration decision. There are a few instances, highlighted in greater depth in the memo, where it may not be in the students' best interest to declare the option.
  3. Refer students to advising, financial aid, and registrar when additional questions arise that are confusing or when in doubt.

The policy overrides requirements for minimum grades in pre-requisite courses and instructs all CUNY colleges to accept the grade of "CR" for transfer credit within the system and without restriction.3  As well, CUNY colleges are not permitted to override the policy through councils or executive leadership.4 As of now, the policy only applies to the Spring 2020 semester, but the University can extend it to future terms if it deems necessary.

The University has created an "FAQs" document regarding the New Flexible Grading Policy that you can access by clicking here.

Official Withdrawal Period

The last day for students to withdraw from classes with a Grade of "W," has been moved to Thursday, May 14, 2020. This is the published "Last Day of Classes," before final examination week, and also prior to the "End of the Spring Term." It will be very helpful for students to know by this point how they have performed on all work submitted to date in order to inform their decision.

INC Grade

At City College, undergraduate students who receive INC grades in the Spring 2020 term would generally be required to submit any outstanding work assignments, during the first few weeks of the following semester. However, the University will allow students to submit incomplete work to faculty for resolution of INC grades for courses taken in Spring 2020 through the Fall 2020 semester, and the new deadline for faculty to submit Incomplete to Grade forms to the Registrar's Office for resolution will be Wednesday, December 23, 2020. This date coincides with the "Final Grade Submission Deadline," for Fall 2020 courses.

Faculty and staff should be aware that the Registrar's Office is typically required to convert close to 100% of all INC grades assigned in undergraduate courses to "FIN." The grade of FIN is computed into the GPA as a failing grade. For this reason, an "INC" grade should be considered the last resort, and for many students, it may be a better option to convert grades using the CR/ NC option. As a rule of thumb, the INC grade should only be assigned when there is a potential for the student to receive a passing grade once outstanding work is submitted.

The existing policy on INC grades in graduate classes is still in effect, namely that graduate students who receive an incomplete in Spring 2020 must fulfill their academic obligation within one calendar year, or in this case by the end of the Spring 2021 term. INC grades that are not resolved in that time automatically convert to an FIN.

In addition, prior to assigning the INC, the faculty member and the undergraduate or graduate student should discuss and agree on the missing work and a timeline for submission of the INC to Grade Change form – students must be aware that they are getting an INC grade. Faculty should never assign INC grades in lieu of failing grades or WUs.

End-of-Term Processes

As you are aware, once final grades are posted for a given term, the Registrar's Office must run a series of CUNYfirst end-of-term processes to close out the term. This includes the F-Repeat process, GPA Recalculations, Academic Standing, Dean's List, Degree Conferral, Latin Honor's calculations, etc. However, in Spring 2020 the various jobs cannot be run until all students are afforded the opportunity to use the flexible grading policy. This means that much of our standard business processes will be significantly delayed. For this reason, it is extremely important for all faculty to submit final grades by the deadline date of May 28, 2020, or earlier if possible.

In closing, we would like to add that the Registrar's Office, while operating remotely, is available to assist with any questions or concerns you may have. The email address is  registrar@ccny.cuny.edu .

Please feel free to use this to communicate with the Registrar's Office as needed.

1https://www.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/page-assets/about/trustees/meetings-of-the-board/CAL0320rev.pdf (refer specifically to pages 22-24)

2 The only ineligible students are Senior Auditors who receive an "AUD" grade for all courses.

3 See page 24, item 6 for transfer credit and item 11 for, ". . . override all undergraduate and graduate program-level grading policies currently in effect…," including pre-requisites and minimum grades.

4 "RESOLVED," That the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall be codified in the Manual of General Policy as Policy 1.4. and cannot be overwritten by any individual units of the University, including presidents, provosts, or college councils," (Italics mine).

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