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Volume 72, Issue 136, Tuesday, April 24, 2007

News

Policy change gets rid of Q grade

Starting in Fall 2007, new system will allow students 
to take up to six W drops whether they're passing or failing

by KIM THAI
The Daily Cougar

The Q grade, initiated in 2004, will starting this fall no longer be an option for students and will be replaced with a new policy that merges it with the W option. 

Before, filing for a Q meant that a student was failing a freshmen or sophomore level course and had until about a month before the semester ended to "quit"; a W grade meant dropping a course the student was passing. Prior to the new policy, a student was allowed three Qs and had an unlimited number of Ws.

Under the new policy, students will be able to take Ws regardless of whether they're passing or failing but will be limited to six.

"The idea to limit the number of course drops was initially a recommendation from the Enrollment Management Task Force, which realized that the practice of allowing unlimited course drops was doing students more harm than good," Libby Barlow, interim registrar, said. "What we have learned is that the students who average the most drops are least likely to be retained and graduate."

The policy will be simpler but was purposefully made more stringent to help with student retention and to increase the University's graduation rate. 

"(To) put it another way, there is a high correlation between completing the courses attempted and staying in school at UH, and there is a high correlation between completing the courses attempted and graduating," Barlow said. "And when we looked at the policies at other universities, it became clear that UH allowed significantly more opportunities for dropping courses.

"There is compelling evidence at both the national level and at UH that students who drop a higher percentage of the courses they attempt are less likely to succeed. In the past, looking at a set of incoming freshmen throughout their college careers, students who had graduated averaged 100 percent course completion throughout their time at UH while students who had not graduated averaged a little over 80 percent completion, Barlow said. 

The revised policy should be a motivating force for students to continuously push themselves in their education, Director of Academic Program Management Heidi Kennedy said. 

"I think (the revised policy) came out as a more important sense as an initiative to really encourage students to stay in school -- to stick to your classes, to come up with strategies, to do well and not just fail," she said. "Through that initiative, looking at student retention and how to get students through to graduation. We know if you drop out, you're less likely to come back. So what kind of policies do we have in place that encourages students to stay rather than bail? We should say stick with it." 

Two drop deadlines will still be in place; the earlier drop date will be for those students who want a full refund and also for University transactions for state census data and the Texas enrollment cap, Kennedy said. 

After that date, Ws will begin to count. A student can file for this grade until the second deadline, which is about a month before classes end, Kennedy said. 

Previous Ws and Qs will not be considered in the new policy, meaning all students -- except for post-baccalaureate and graduate students -- will be able to take six Ws from Fall 2007 and on. 

Allowing six Ws was a recommendation of the Enrollment Management Task Force. Although higher and lower numbers were discussed, six was the number everyone could agree on, Barlow said.

"We believe more students will be successful if the overall number of course drops is limited," Barlow said. "A high proportion of UH student drops happen late in the semester. 

"Over 50 percent of the Fall semester course drops take place in the week or so before the last day to drop with a grade, which is only four weeks prior to the end of the semester. That's very late for the student to know what they're academic commitment for the semester really is."

Students can get more information from their academic advisers.

 Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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