May 18 – 20, 2005

 

ITEM 126-105-R0305                  Minimum Course Grades

 

THAT:                                       The Board of Regents of Higher Education approves a policy establishing minimum grade expectations for students in the Montana University System.  Because the group working on this policy received conflicting feedback on  what the policy should do, however, the group is presenting three (3)  alternative policies for the Regents’ consideration.  All three (3) alternative policies establish three categories of coursework, and create minimum grade standards for all three categories.  The categories are free or elective credits; general education classes; and classes that are prerequisites or required courses for a major, minor, option or certificate.  All three alternatives also mandate that all students must earn a grade of C- or better in every class used to satisfy the general education requirement, so the minimum grade expectation corresponds with the proposed general education policy.

 

Two (2) of the alternative policies

(1)           permit individual programs throughout the System to establish minimum grades for pre-requisite and required courses in a major, minor, option, certificate and even general education courses.

(2)           those alternative policies then ask the Regents to decide if the minimum grade for all other coursework, including classes where a program has not established a minimum grade expectation, should be either a C- or a D-.

 

The third alternative creates a Montana University System standard for minimum grades in the three categories of classes, and removes the option of individual program discretion in setting those standards.

 

EXPLANATION:                        The policy was developed in response to recommendation 5 of the Legislative Audit concerning transfer of credit practices within the Montana University System.  A possible policy on minimum grades was presented to the Board of Regents at its March 2005 meeting.  After extensive discussion, the Board asked that another proposal be brought to the May 2005 meeting.  The attached alternatives are presented, in response to that request.

 

The Montana Board of Regents should adopt an effective date for any policy it  approves concerning minimum grades for students in the Montana University System.  The difficulty in setting that effective date is the impact it will have on students, both students who are currently part of the Montana University System and new students who become part of the System.  If the effective date is based on some starting point in time, like Fall Semester 2005, the Montana University System could be accused of changing the rules in the middle of the game for current students.  If the starting date is applied to a group of students, like “all incoming students beginning Fall Semester 2005,” it could create a nightmare for the campuses as they work students through the transition period, applying different standards to different students depending on when they earned their grades.  An effective date is essential, however, to give the policy meaning.

 

Therefore, the following date is proposed:  The minimum grade policy will go into effect Fall Semester 2005, and will apply to all students who enter or are readmitted to the Montana University System or the three (3) community colleges that semester or subsequent semesters.