Course repeat policy proposed to be revised

The Bellevue College Board of Trustees, Community College District VIII, convened on Nov. 20 for their final meeting of the calendar year. Section VI of the business session was the first reading of the proposed course repeat revisions to policy 3000 Grading, presented by Tom Nielsen, vice president of instruction. These revisions have been reviewed and approved by the Educational Services Cabinet and the President’s Cabinet.

Relevant elements of the policy currently read “The student is responsible for initiating the removal of an incomplete grade or for correcting a grade he or she believes is incorrect. Students who have received a ‘D’ or ‘F’ in a course have the right, under certain circumstances, to repeat the course.” Revisions would remove the stipulation of having received a “D” or “F” in order to retake courses. In the instance of a course being repeated, the revisions would have “the highest grade awarded for the repeated course apply when computing the student’s BC” grade point average and an “R” automatically substituted out for the lesser grade. This does not apply to courses that are intended to have the option of being taken more than once for multiple grades. Lastly, revisions would have “the information under the heading, Repeating a Course, be reorganized to reflect a more logical sequence of statements.”

As it now stands, only 20 percent of students who have retaken a class are requesting a replacement grade. That leaves approximately 1,600 of the 2,000 students currently enrolled in a repeat course with an unnecessarily lower GPA. Simplification diverges from subjecting these students to the elitism of navigating policies and procedures in the name of student success. Matt Groshong, BC registiar, echoed that sentiment in stating that “This is really a social justice and an equity issue as much as anything else.” Many institutions of higher education require a higher caliber GPA than the traditionally defined average, “C” or even a “B” for that matter.

These revisions are, “Expanding on a policy that … recognizes students who may have issues in classes that may cause their grades to drop that are not associated with their ability to be successful,” said Zawdie Terry, associated student government president. Dave Rule, president of BC, spoke in favor of the revisions expressing concern for a policy that effectively rewards self-sabotage in order to meet eligibility requirements over a student who gets a “C” and is denied the opportunity to retake the course. The policy revisions would make policy more consistent with enforcement capabilities. When it comes to the current repeat policy’s letter grade requirement and maximum of three retakes, “We have no way of mechanically [or] electronically monitoring or enforcing this, given our system,” stated Nielsen. According to Groshong, with the system change scheduled for 2017, such enforcement could become possible.

The policy has been recommended for consideration of approval at the next Board of Trustees meeting, scheduled for Feb. 5, 2014.