Student transcripts could look a little different next year after the implementation of contextual grading and the new XF grade.
The new grading system would require that an “X” is added to an “F” grade when a student is convicted of violating the Honor Code.
The “X” notation may be removed only if the student responsible participates in an ethics course which proves their renewed understanding of academic integrity, said Dean of Students Jonathan Sauls. However, making the effort to remove the “X” is completely voluntary.
Sauls said the XF grade will improve the honor system while allowing students to gain a better understanding of the University’s academic standards.
Although the proposal is awaiting formal approval by the Faculty Council and Chancellor Carol Folt, Sauls said he is confident it will pass.
The notation is used by a number of other schools, Sauls said, but not all of those institutions allow students the opportunity to remove the “X” from their transcript.
“We thought it was important to have that redemptive quality,” Sauls said. “There’s an educative component for students to learn and grow from mistakes.”
The XF grade is one of several methods UNC is using to change its approach to academic conduct. UNC will also implement contextual grading in the fall that will show how well a student did in a course compared to their classmates.
Theresa Raphael-Grimm, chairwoman of the educational policy committee, said contextual grading will tell graduate schools more about an individual’s academic achievement while also curbing grade inflation over time.
The committee recently increased the cutoff GPA for the Honors Program because grade inflation has increased so much over the last 20 years, Raphael-Grimm said.
“I don’t think grade inflation is advantageous to students,” she said. “I think it really diminishes what an A means.”
Lawrence Mur’ray, director of the undergraduate business program, said there are many factors that go into evaluating applicants, but that contextual transcripts will be an additional factor the Kenan-Flagler Business School uses in its assessments.
“It’s rare that one data point or single piece of information is enough to impact a student’s chances at receiving a favorable admissions decision,” Mur’ray said.
Undergraduate Student Attorney General Anna Sturkey said the Office of Student Conduct will work to educate students about these changes.
They are working to create a reader-friendly guide to explain the changes, which will be widely distributed next year, along with an updated module for freshmen.
Sauls said it was necessary that these academic changes happened in concert with each other.
“It’s part of a greater whole,” he said. “I don’t know if all these changes would have the same support if they were done in a vacuum.”
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