Prof tells students to 'stop' doing their work: 'A's for every student'

One student told Campus Reform that it is "frustrating" and that she already had a 99 percent in the class.

Some students will be getting As this semester, not in spite of coronavirus but because of it.

“All, if you’re working on your course work, stop. I am entering A’s for every student.”

These are the words of Jo McIntosh, an English instructor at Concordia University in Texas, in an announcement sent to students Tuesday.

As the coronavirus spreads, an increasing number of professors and students alike are advocating for this kind of grade inflation.

Kalah Reed, a freshman in McIntosh’s class, told Campus Reform that she had a “99 up to this point in the class.”

“It’s frustrating to me because I know that not everyone in that class would have earned an A,” Reed said.

[RELATED: Ivy League prof: Just give everyone an A]

McIntosh said that she “may be in touch” with her students about “joining honors orgs” or to share a “video or link that [they] would have looked at together,” but that as far as official coursework is concerned, “there will be no further assignments needed for this course.” 

With more than a month left in the semester, McIntosh told students “I made this decision after reviewing each student’s ability to meet the course objectives based on the work you’ve turned in up to this point, and see that each of you has achieved those objectives at some point, or I can assess that you could have achieved those objectives had we stayed on campus this semester.”

Reed rejects that concept telling Campus Reform that there are “people who never showed up” and that “peer review work” within the class was low caliber. Reed clarified that she “would not say that everyone would have received an A had [they] learned in the classroom the rest of the semester.” 

[RELATED: College goes gradeless for students facing ‘immense burden’]

In a climate of optional final exams, elimination of final letter grades, and optional final papers, many students are getting permission to coast through the rest of their spring semester. Many universities and professors cite factors such as “incredible stress” as the reason students cannot be expected to finish the semester. 

Concordia University is also temporarily waiving the SAT/ACT entrance exam requirement for admission due to coronavirus complications. This applies to incoming classes beginning Fall 2020 through Fall 2021.

McIntosh is not alone in her thinking. Tenured Columbia University professor Jenny Davidson recently penned an op-ed for The Washington Post calling on fellow professors to give all students As for the spring 2020 term. 

“It’s time to abandon our preconceived ideas about what needs to happen in a college class for a student to get credit for it,” wrote Davidson.

[RELATED: ‘No Fail Yale’: Ivy League lowers academic expectations amid coronavirus]

Petitions are circulating from students all over the nation demanding that their universities follow suit. Students at the University of Arizona are demanding that the school cut classes off completely and pass everyone for the term. 

“I can see both sides. I know a lot of people are scared of the virus because the US is in a crisis, but college-wise we are paying a lot of money for tuition. With the technology we have, there is no reason we should not be held to the same high standards as we were in the classroom,” Reed told Campus Reform, with the caveat that “it’s ridiculous that we are using the crisis to let everything fall off our plate.”

“Our bosses are not expecting less of their employees working from home. They are expected to perform the same. If everyone just quit and gave up, we really will all be in a much worse crisis after this pandemic clears up,” Reed said.

McIntosh did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication. 

Campus Reform spoke with Jonathan Pidluzny, vice president of academic affairs at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Pidluzny said of easing academic standards, in general, “the higher [the] standard, the more you’re going to push yourself. And it’s in pushing yourself to do better work, to study harder, that you actually make the gains that college is supposed to teach.”

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