New policy turns incomplete into ‘F’

    A new rule implemented this year will turn incomplete grades into an F or a No Pass if the coursework is not completed within one year.

    The new rule, called the “I to F" policy, was proposed by the Scholastic Standards Committee at PSU and decided upon by the faculty senate in June 2006. Under old policy, the ‘I’ would remain on the transcript if the student did not complete the coursework within the designated timeline.

    The policy was implemented this term, applies only to undergraduate grades, and does not affect incompletes received before fall term.

    The change was announced in the 2006-07 PSU Bulletin, and an entry about the policy was posted on the PSU News and Announcements page on Oct. 25.

    Mario Garza, an academic adviser who works in the Information and Academic Support Center (IASC), said advisers have been careful to notify students of the change in grading policy.

    ”It’s important to make the students aware that, if they get an ‘I’ for a course, they really need to make sure they work it out with the instructor," said Garza.

    Incomplete grades are typically given when a student is unable to turn in “essential" coursework, and his or her coursework up until that point has been at least C­­ level. Students are then given, at the most, one calendar year to complete the outstanding coursework, but deadlines are left to the instructor’s discretion. If the student turns in the missing work in time, the incomplete grade is then replaced with a letter grade (A-F).

    ”The student and the instructor are supposed to make a written agreement about the conditions of the [incomplete grade]," said Garza. “That way there is no confusion."

    Incompletes, Xs and Ws do not affect the calculation of GPA. Now, however, an incomplete grade may drastically affect GPA if not dealt with.

    ”Some faculty members have issued ‘I’s without much thought," said Garza. “The situations didn’t necessarily meet the criteria, and students were unclear what the ‘I’ meant. Our hope is that now instructors will be much more careful about throwing out ‘I’s, and they will have to be clear about what they expect from students."

    ”[Incompletes] didn’t used to look any worse than Xs or Ws on a transcript, but if students display a pattern of these, it doesn’t look good, especially if they are trying to get into grad school," said Garza. “One ‘I’ on a transcript wouldn’t hurt anyone before, but now, if they let it become an F, they could be in big trouble."    

    Garza said that the new policy is more in line with grading at other universities. “A lot of students are surprised that we didn’t already have [this policy]. PSU has been pretty liberal with its grading policies."

    Graduating students will have their incomplete grades transformed into Fs or N/Ps prior to the conferral of the degree. Once the degree is awarded the F or N/P cannot be removed from the student’s academic record.