Evaluation of students

Evaluation of student performance

Reed College encourages students to measure academic achievement by intellectual growth and by self-assessment of their grasp of course material. The college does not wish to divide students by labels of achievement. A conventional letter grade for each course is recorded for every student, but the registrar's office does not distribute grades to students, provided that work continues at satisfactory (C or higher) levels. Unsatisfactory grades are reported directly to the student and the student's adviser. Students may obtain their grades from their advisers or the course instructor if they wish to do so. Students may also order a transcript from the registrar's office.

Students' work is closely observed and frequently evaluated by instructors; the student and adviser then discuss these evaluations in individual conferences. In the case of students whose work is incomplete or below the expected standard, instructors write comments, recording their perceptions of the student's difficulties in addition to the course grade. These comments are given to students, advisers, and student services and are considered along with the grade record when a decision is made as to whether an academic action needs to be taken.

Student progress in all courses is reviewed six times each year: after four weeks and after eight weeks during the semester and at the end of each semester. First-year students and sophomores are reviewed by the Administration Committee, upper-division students by the divisions in which they are majoring. Notices of unsatisfactory performance are given to all students following any review at which they are reported to be in academic difficulty. Students are to confer with each instructor in courses where their performance was indicated as low or unsatisfactory.


The grades that Reed records in students' official records reflect a conventional grading system. The following designations are used to report final grades for undergraduate work.

A Excellent; also A+ and A-
B Above average; also B+ and B-
C Average; also C+ and C-
D Minimal knowledge but passing
F Failure
S Denotes satisfactory progress in a course and is not used as a final grade. S is also used in notices to students to reflect grades of C or better.
IN Incomplete. Used in a course where the level of the work done up to the point of the Incomplete is passing and the remaining work has not been completed due to reasons of health or extreme emergency and for no other reasons.
DS Dismissal. Used when an instructor chooses to dismiss a student from a course for serious misconduct. The instructor must first notify the student's adviser. The grade of DS remains permanently on the academic record. The grade is not calculated in the grade point average.
U Unfinished. Used to report a thesis grade when the thesis is not completed on time and when neither a final grade nor an Incomplete may be recorded. If the thesis is not completed within the time limit set, the U is replaced with F. (The graduation requirement, then, can be completed only by re-registering for thesis and by the successful completion of a new thesis on a new topic.)
Cr Credit. Used in a course in which work was completed at the level of C or better in a credit/no credit course.
NC No Credit. Used to denote work of C- or lower in a credit/no credit course
UW Unofficial Withdrawal. Used at the four- or eight-week grade reviews of any course for a student who is officially registered in a course but who has not been attending class. It may also be recorded at the end of the semester for a student who received a UW at the eight-week review but who failed to drop the course.
W Withdrawal. Used to indicate a student has dropped a semester course after Monday of the sixth week, and on or before Monday of the tenth week of the term; or a yearlong course after Monday of the tenth week in fall, and on or before Monday of the sixth week in spring.

A student's grade point average is calculated by translating the letter grades into points according to the following formula:

A+ = 4.00 C+ = 2.30
A = 4.00 C = 2.0
A- = 3.70 C- = 1.70
B+ = 3.30 D = 1.00
B = 3.00 F = 0.00
B- = 2.70    

(Other designations are not included in the calculation of the grade point average.)

The grade point average is derived by dividing the total number of grade points earned (units multiplied by grade value, for example, 1.5 units x 3.30 = 4.95 grade points) by the number of graded units attempted.

Instructor comment form

At each grading period (four-week, eight-week, and the end of the semester), faculty members are asked to provide comments on the progress of individual students who are in one or more of the following categories: on probation, enrolled in an overload, or experiencing difficulty in the course. Instructors are also encouraged to provide comments when students are doing well or showing marked improvement. These comments are made available to the student, the student's adviser, and student services. Students should review these comments with their adviser to more accurately assess their progress in courses. The information on these forms is used by the Administration Committee and the divisions when they make decisions regarding academic action.

Academic status report

After eight-week grades are recorded, a report is sent to those students who have earned or who have any of the following:

  • an unsatisfactory grade (C-, D, F, U, NCr, or DS)
  • an incomplete
  • no credit in PE (for students who have not completed the PE requirement)
  • a missing grade

The report lists the courses with the grades outlined above, the courses in which satisfactory grades have been earned (noting only a grade of S), the number of PE credits completed, and the number remaining to meet the requirement.

Students with unsatisfactory grades should first confer with the instructor(s) in the course(s) in which their performance was unsatisfactory and review the report with their adviser.

At the end of each semester an academic status report is sent to each student.


Transcripts are available by request through the registrar's office. Transcript requests can be made electronically via the online ordering service or by submitting a signed request to the registrar's office. The first copy is free; subsequent copies cost $5 per copy.

Transcripts will not be released if the student owes the college $25 or more.

Grade review

At the end of each semester and after grades are recorded, the faculty reviews the progress of all students. The divisions and interdisciplinary committees review juniors and seniors in their majors, and the Administration Committee reviews first-year students, sophomores, and those juniors and seniors in ad hoc majors that cross divisions. At the grade review, the faculty determines the appropriate academic action or commendation (the latter at the end of the year only), and students are notified of any action on their academic status report.

Academic action

The following are the steps ordinarily taken by the faculty in cases of deficiency in scholarship, listed in increasing order of severity. Because the faculty consider the comments from instructors, as well as current and past grades when deciding on an action, there are no rigid lines dividing one action from another. Students are notified of any academic action by a statement on their academic status reports. Academic actions are not noted on students' official transcripts. Students who receive an academic action are to meet with their advisers to discuss their academic status. In addition, it is often helpful to meet with a dean in student services to discuss strategies for improvement, and support services such as tutoring, counseling, or academic support workshops.

Official warning

Used if one D is earned. Students on official warning are encouraged (but not required) to complete a progress plan in consultation with their adviser and a dean of student services (see progress plan below).

Place on probation

A student earning two or more D grades or one or more F grade is usually placed on probation. A student on probation is considered to be making unsatisfactory progress. The student is required to formulate a progress plan in consultation with the adviser and a dean of student services (see progress plan below). 

Denial of registration

A student who fails to meet the terms of the progress plan or whose academic record warrants time away from the college is denied registration. During the period of denial of registration (typically one semester) the student may not enroll at Reed. Students who have been denied registration are encouraged to apply for readmission at the end of the stipulated period or when they believe they are ready to return. Readmission will be judged on the basis of evidence that the earlier problems have been identified and addressed, including completion of any requirements stipulated by the faculty.

Dismissal from college

This is a final action, used when the faculty believes that a student cannot sustain satisfactory progress at the college for academic or other reasons.


At the end of each academic year, students may be commended for academic achievement. Commendations are made by the faculty after recommendation by the Administration Committee (underclass students) and the divisions and interdisciplinary committees (juniors and seniors).

Commendations for excellence in scholarship are usually made for students who

  • were enrolled full time for the year
  • earned a grade point average of 3.5 or higher for the year
  • earned no grade lower than C-
  • have no grade of IN (incomplete)

Students with grades of incomplete will not be considered for commendation until the incomplete is changed to a letter grade. Divisions and committees also may commend a student for marked improvement. Notation of commendations will be made on the student's academic record (transcript).

Progress plan

Students on probation are required to develop with their adviser, in consultation with a dean in student services, a progress plan specifying how the student plans to return to good standing and complete degree requirements in a timely manner.

In developing the progress plan, three primary areas should be considered: the reasons for the academic difficulty, detailed strategies to improve performance, and specific academic standards to be met during the period of probation.

All students placed on academic probation will be sent information that includes a progress plan form, a worksheet, a description of academic actions, and instructions for completing the progress plan. After reviewing this information, students should meet with their adviser and a dean in student services. The completed progress plan with all appropriate signatures is due to student services by the end of the second week of the probationary semester.

Student services will forward the progress plan to the registrar’s office for use in reviewing the student's record at the end of the probationary semester.

Generally, a student who fulfills the academic standards of the plan will be removed from probation except in cases where the faculty believes remaining on probation is warranted. A student who does not succeed in meeting the academic standards of the plan will normally be denied registration or be dismissed from the college.

(last modified: December 13, 2016)