Instructions released for Alternative Grade Calculator and Request Tool

May 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Instructions for using the new Alternative Grade Calculator and Request Tool in LionPATH are now available for undergraduates and students enrolled in the Graduate School. Included with the instructions are screenshots from the fully developed tool.

While the instructions are available now, the tool will not go live until Wednesday, May 20, after grades are finalized. Students will have until 11:59 p.m. EDT, May 29, to make their decisions regarding optional alternative grading.

Students will be able to use the tool to explore their options and see how selecting an alternative grade for each individual class will affect their cumulative grade point average (cGPA). Students will then need to submit their selections to make them permanent. Once this submission has been made, alternative grade selections cannot be reversed within the tool.

Recently, instructions were released on how to use the existing GPA Calculator Tool in LionPATH as a planning tool to help students start considering their choices for alternative grading. There may be other factors than GPA that should factor into a student’s decision, and discussion with an adviser is strongly encouraged.

In response to the coronavirus epidemic, Penn State’s faculty and administration developed plans to adjust grading for the spring 2020 semester. The plans reflect the fact that many students, through no fault of their own, will not be able to achieve the grades they likely would have achieved without this disruption. The alternative grading system was developed after careful consultation with University stakeholders to minimize damage to GPAs.

An FAQ about alternative grading for undergraduate students is available here. An FAQ about alternative grading for students enrolled in the Graduate School is available here.

The alternative grading system gives much of the control over to students by allowing them to opt in — on a course-by-course basis — after their instructors submit their final grades at the end of the semester. This way, if students are successful in their courses they are able to retain the normal letter grade (sometimes referred to as a “quality grade”). Conversely, if the letter grade would hurt a student’s GPA, undergraduate students who earned a C or better are able to select a grade of Satisfactory, while graduate students are able to select a grade of “P”. Both undergraduate and graduate students are able to select V if they earned a D, and Z (no grade) if they earned an F in the course. These alternative grades are not included in Penn State's calculation of a student's GPA.

Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisers about the possible implications of using the optional alternative grading system. In addition, undergraduate students can use the following alternative grade decision worksheet, developed by academic advisers within the Division of Undergraduate Studies, available here.

It is important to note that Penn State does not have control over how external bodies will interpret alternative grades submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in accredited programs, including those leading to an external certificate, licensure, or other credential, should also consult with their adviser to determine if choosing the alternative grading option is allowable by accreditation standards, and/or will impact other credentials.

It is also important for students to note that they will not be able to elect alternative grading for a course in which they violated Penn State’s Academic Integrity (AI) policy. A student whose AI review process results in a modification of the grade for the course (including individual components or the overall grade) is not eligible for alternative grading.

Last Updated May 07, 2020