College Spurs Transfer Success with Elimination of D Grades


When students transfer, colleges are looking at more than just credit totals. Performance also matters, which is why Stanly Community College (NC) has eliminated D grades.

For course credits to transfer, many four-year colleges require students to have earned at least a C. So even through students with a D grade have technically passed the class, they didn’t perform well enough to have another institution recognize their learning. And in many cases, the low mark also prevents students from meeting the prerequisites needed to take more advanced courses within the same subject.

“We really noticed it was an issue when we had students that would get the D in their math class and they had a D on the transcript,” Brigette Myers, who leads Stanly’s math department, told Inside Higher Ed. “Later they would talk to us as an adviser and they’re ready to transfer, but we’re telling them to retake the class or they have to retake at the [university]. They didn’t understand.”

The college made the decision to eliminate D grades in 2012, determining that any score lower than 70 percent would be marked as an F.

The college’s transfer success rate subsequently increased by 15 percent.

College officials can’t definitively say whether the decision to eliminate D grades led to the improvement, but they believe it had an impact. And recently, more and more community colleges have contacted the school for guidance in revising their own grading scales.

“Usually, if the student is concerned about their grade, they will rise to meet the bar wherever you set that bar,” Myers said.

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