Math Department Passing Rates Calculations

Questioner: Michelle DeDeo

Posted to: Jeffrey Coker, Undergraduate Dean Office of the Undergraduate Studies

Regarding the Response Posted Below:

The response from the Provost’s office dated October 18, 2011 seems to contradict calculation of Pass rates currently in use the Mathematics Department as well as in the ENLACE Florida (the state-wide network consisting of faculty from 8 Florida universities including UNF) policy brief regarding Pass Rates in GE Math courses dated October 2009.

There has been a great focus on improving Pass rates in General Education classes these past few years. One of the main “improvements” has been in implementing a computer component to the class requirements. For many classes, software has been useful, but it cannot cure all ills. Withdrawals and Pass rates need to be looked at in a larger context and clarified.

First, since a C or higher is required in at least two math classes at the level of College Algebra or higher for a student to graduate from a Florida university, a D has been regarded as a Fail. Thus only A/B/C are a Pass and D/F/FA/WF are a Fail in the department.

Second, the Withdrawal (W) has also been regarded as a Fail, despite the fact that the withdrawal can be not only from unpreparedness, but for medical, military or financial reasons.

The second distinction is extremely important. Between Spring 2005 and Spring 2010, the Withdrawal rate for College Algebra (MAC1105) at UNF has averaged 24% with little deviation from year to year. If we include Withdrawals in the Fail rate, we have a 53.5% Pass rate in MAC1105. If we simply exclude Withdrawals from the calculation, the Pass rate becomes 0.4%.
Personally, I would like to exclude Withdrawals from the calculation. Once a student is enrolled in a class, faculty cannot control a majority of the conditions that lead a student to drop. I believe we should focus on improving the Withdrawal rate – which could be done by better screening students before they take the course – in addition to improving the Pass rate for those students in the course.

My question is this: What method is UNF’s administration going to use to calculate Pass rates for general education courses?

Response from Jeffrey Coker, Undergraduate Dean on 10/18:
Normal withdrawals are not counted as part of the pass rate for a particular course. However, a withdrawal that has an impact on a student’s GPA–“WF” or “FA” (punitive F)-is included in calculation of course pass rate. The reasoning is that an instructor who records a grade of WF for a student has indicated, at the time of late withdrawal that the student indeed was failing the course.  As such, this should be counted as part of overall course performance. As grading policy is established by the university, departments may not opt out. Also, please note that pass rates are calculated as “D or above” rather than C or higher.