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College Academic Standards and Expectations

Graduate Student Handbook

Lehigh University Code of Conduct

The university’s expectations for student behavior are detailed in its Code of Conduct. Please familiarize yourself with those expectations.

Expectations and norms for academic performance are higher in graduate school than in undergraduate education. 

Final course marks

Final course marks, their equivalencies in GPA and typical qualitative interpretations in graduate work within the College of Education are as follows:

Final Course Mark GPA Qualitative Interpretation
A 4.00 Excellent performance demonstrating superior work.
A- 3.67 Strong performance with some room for improvement.
B+

3.33

Good performance.
B 3.00 Competent performance.
B- 2.67 Minimal performance calling for marked future improvement.
C+ 2.33 Inadequate performance; multiple marks below B- lead to probation and or dismissal for poor scholarship.
C 2.00
C- 1.67
D+ 1.33 Unacceptable performance that cannot be counted toward meeting degree or certification requirements, although such marks factor in cumulative GPA and can play a role in a student being placed on probation or dismissed for poor scholarship.
D 1.00
D- 0.67
F 0.00
N --- Course not completed; may also carry a parenthetical mark to which the incomplete will convert if not removed within a year.
AU --- Audited course; such courses may not be counted toward meeting degree or certification requirements and may not be retaken for credit once audited.
X --- Absent from the final exam; may also carry a parenthetical mark to which the final mark will convert if not removed within a year, or earlier is specified by the instructor.
Z --- Absent from the final exam and incomplete; student has one year to remove incomplete, unless an earlier deadline is specified by the instructor.
W --- Course was dropped before the end of the official drop period; does not count toward cumulative GPA or meeting degree or certification requirements.
WP --- Course was dropped after the end of the official drop period and student was passing at time he or she dropped; does not count toward cumulative GPA or meeting degree or certification requirements.
WF 0.00 Course was dropped after the end of the official drop period and student was NOT passing at time he or she dropped; counts toward cumulative GPA, but does not count toward meeting degree or certification requirements.

Academic Scholarship Requirements for COE Degree Programs

In keeping with Lehigh University regulations, academic units may have more stringent scholarship requirements than those established at the university level. The standards below represent the more stringent academic performance standards required by all degree programs in the College of Education.

Associate Status Students

Associate Status Students will be placed on probation when they receive their first final course mark below B- and will be dismissed for poor scholarship at the end of any semester in which they are assigned a second final course mark below B-. Once on probation, associate students remain on probation until they are granted regular status or receive the degree.

If an associate student is assigned two final course marks below a B- in the same semester, that student will be dismissed for poor scholarship without first being placed on probation. Receiving a final course mark below C- will also result in the associate student being dismissed for poor scholarship without being first placed on probation.

Associate status students must petition to assume regular status once they have completed 9 credits of coursework numbered 200 or above. Students who are eligible to be granted regular status but fail to apply after completing 9 credits will be evaluated according to the criteria that apply to regular status students (below).

Regular Status Students

Regular Status Students will be placed on probation at the end of any semester in which they receive their second final course mark below B-. Students receiving three final course marks below B- will be dismissed for poor scholarship.

Academic Probation

Students placed on academic probation must submit a proposed academic improvement plan to their academic advisors. That plan must include an explanation of why the student received final course marks below B- and must offer a specific plan to address in future coursework the cause of such inadequate academic performance. This plan must be approved by the program faculty. Once regular status students are placed on probation, they remain on probation until completing the degree.

Readmission

Graduate students who have been dismissed for poor scholarship are ineligible to register for coursework in the program. After one semester away, such students may petition for readmission. The program and the dean’s office must approve the petition. Students whose petitions are granted will be readmitted on probation and will be dismissed permanently if they receive any additional final course mark below B-.

No final course mark lower than C- may be counted toward a graduate degree and pass-fail registration is not allowed for graduate students.

College Policy on Adequate Academic Progress

The College of Education employs more stringent academic standards than the university for academic performance of graduate students (see http://catalog.lehigh.edu/graduatestudyandresearch/admissiontograduatestudy). Students failing to meet those standards will be placed on probation or dismissed for poor scholarship.  In addition, graduate students in the College of Education (COE) must also continue to make adequate academic progress.  Adequate progress is expected of students seeking degrees, non-degree students taking focused coursework toward subsequent admission to an academic program or toward external certification, and students seeking a Lehigh University post-baccalaureate certificate.

To assure graduate students in COE academic programs make necessary academic progress in those programs, faculty of the program in which a student is enrolled may review that student’s progress.  If, in the judgment of the program faculty, a student is not making adequate progress, by majority vote of the voting program faculty, they may either bar that student from registering for further coursework in the COE until he or she demonstrates adequate progress by completing specified actions, or drop that student from the program for inadequate academic progress.  In cases where a student is non-degree, such a vote to drop shall have the effect of barring that student from taking further coursework in that academic program unless (1) that student is subsequently admitted to a COE academic program and (2) such coursework is required by the student’s subsequent program of study.

Events that may trigger such an adequate progress review include:

  • A graduate student carrying two or more incompletes in non-research courses,
  • A graduate student withdrawing from the same course more than once,
  • A graduate student withdrawing from more than three required courses in a program of study,
  • A graduate student failing to complete non-course program requirements in a timely fashion,
  • Any COE faculty member or instructor requesting such a review.

In addition, some COE academic programs mandate periodic reviews of the academic progress of all students in those programs and these reviews shall take place without the necessity of a triggering event.

In making decisions about adequate progress, program faculty shall take into consideration a student’s personal health and/or life situation.  To assist in such consideration, program directors may request that students clarify the reasons behind their failure to make adequate academic progress. 

Right of Appeal 

Students have the right of appeal if they feel academic program faculty have erred in (1) barring them from further coursework in the COE until completing some specified indicator(s) of adequate academic progress, (2) dropping them from the program in which they were enrolled, or (3) barring them from taking non-degree coursework in that academic program.  Such students should follow the appeal process laid out in the College of Education Grievances Procedures, detailed elsewhere in this handbook. The form to use for appeals of sanctions related to adequate progress decisions is the Non-course-related Grievance Form.

College Academic Integrity Policy

The faculty of the College of Education is committed to upholding the highest standards of personal, professional, and academic integrity.  Thus, each graduate student, graduate assistant, or research assistant in the College of Education is expected to act in accordance with the university’s Student Code of Conduct and the standards set by the university faculty.  Further, each student is expected to act in accordance with the professional standards set forth by his or her field of study (for example, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the American Psychological Association).

The faculty will not tolerate acts of plagiarism, cheating, data falsification and other forms of academic misconduct.  Using the appropriate procedure, the faculty will send suspected cases of academic dishonesty to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Expectations to initiate a fair process for resolving alleged misconduct.

Students found responsible under the Student Code of Conduct for specific charges of academic misconduct will not be eligible to receive a university recommendation for professional licensure or certification.  While this ineligibility might not prevent such students from completing the coursework for a degree and receiving that degree, it would eliminate their ability to achieve certification or licensure.

Process for Resolving Suspected Student Academic Misconduct

This section details the “appropriate procedure … for resolving alleged misconduct” cited in the policy above. The two-stage procedure consists of an informal resolution stage and a formal resolution stage. The informal resolution stage takes place within the college, while the formal resolution stage takes place outside the college and is administered by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Expectations. A two-stage procedure is designed to protect both faculty and students and is intended to be transparent in operation. Each stage is described below.

Informal Resolution (within the College)

If a faculty member, or several faculty members together, have reason to suspect student academic dishonesty —plagiarism, cheating, data falsification or some other form of academic misconduct— he/she/they should first discuss the suspected offense with the student(s) involved and see if they are able to resolve it without involving anyone else. If, however, they are unable to resolve it to their mutual satisfaction in a timely fashion, the faculty member(s) should complete the Suspected Student Academic Misconduct Resolution Process form (see this page) and submit it to the Department Chair for administrative acknowledgement. Such acknowledgement makes sure that others within the department and college are aware of the situation and helps ensure due process is followed, without removing control of the resolution process from the faculty and student(s) involved, unless they wish it so removed.

This form asks the faculty member(s) to identify the student(s) and faculty involved, to classify the nature of the suspected misconduct, and to describe both the suspected events and attempts at resolution to date. 

It further asks the faculty member(s) whether both she/he/they and the student(s) wish to pursue informal resolution. If the answer is negative, the issue will move forward immediately to formal resolution through the Office of Student Conduct and Community.

If the submitting faculty member(s) and the student(s) respond that they wish to pursue informal resolution, the form requires a date by which that resolution must be achieved or the matter automatically moves forward to the formal resolution process.  Specifying a date encourages all involved to complete the informal resolution process in a timely fashion and in good faith. This is an important component of appropriate due process.

Successful Resolution

If the informal resolution process is successful, the faculty involved notify the department chair of this fact using the Informal Resolution Status Update Form (see this page).  The chair then acknowledges this resolution by signing the form and notifying all parties involved in writing. The chair then forwards the signed form to the associate dean and the matter is considered resolved. No further action is taken at the departmental or college level.

Termination of Informal Resolution Process

If, at any point before the date specified on the Suspected Student Academic Misconduct Resolution Process form, one or more of the faculty or student(s) involved may use the Informal Resolution Status Form to request the termination of the informal resolution process and that the matter be moved forward to formal resolution. In this case, the department chair shall notify all parties involved in writing that the issue is moving forward before the specified informal resolution deadline at the request of one or more of the parties involved. The chair copies the associate dean on this notification.

Mutually Agreeable Extension of Informal Resolution Deadline

If, at any point before the date specified on the Suspected Student Academic Misconduct Resolution Process form, all parties involved (both all faculty and all students) agree that they wish to extend the informal resolution period, they may request an extension using the Informal Resolution Status Update Form. The chair then signs this form, as does the associate dean, and the newly specified deadline for informal resolution becomes effective. Only one such extension may be granted, however, and it must be confirmed by signature as acceptable to all parties involved.

Failure to Resolve by Informal Resolution Deadline

If the department chair does not receive notice of successful informal resolution by the date specified on the Suspected Student Academic Misconduct Resolution Process form, she/he then notifies all parties involved in writing, stating that the informal resolution date has passed without resolution and the issue is moving forward to the formal resolution process. The chair copies the associate dean on this notification.

Formal Resolution Process (outside the College)

The formal resolution process is governed by specific university policies and procedures. These may be found online.

Each of the parties involved in the suspected student misconduct plays the role specified in these policies and procedures and is governed by the due process employed.

Termination of Student Status

The student status of students enrolled in the College of Education may be terminated for seven reasons:

  1. Voluntary Termination:  A student notifies the university, through academic advisers, program directors or other university officials, that he/she wishes to discontinue pursue of studies.
  2. Inadequate Academic Progress:  If, in the judgment of the program faculty, a student has failed to meet the expectations of the program in terms of making adequate academic progress, as defined by the College of Education’s Adequate Academic Progress Policy (see below), that student may be dropped from the program.
  3. Failure to Meet Program Standards/Requirements:  Selected degree programs in the COE (for example, Counseling Psychology and School Psychology) have periodic reviews of student performance and behavior. If, in the judgment of the program’s voting faculty, a student has failed to meet the expectations/requirements of the program, that student may be dropped from the program.  Such expectations/requirements include both course-related and non-course-related performances and behaviors.
  4. Dismissal for Poor Scholarship:  Regularly admitted students in degree programs who fail to meet the COE’s Academic Performance Standards Policy will be dismissed from the college. 
  1. Disciplinary Dismissal:  Students who undergo a disciplinary review in which they are found responsible, may have their student status terminated (see this page). The COE has its own procedures for attempting informal resolution of suspected academic misconduct (see this page), procedures aligned with the university’s process.
  2. Certification/Licensure Program Termination:  A student in a program leading to external certification or licensure who is found to have violated the COE Academic Integrity Policy will no longer be eligible to pursue such certification and licensure, although he or she may be eligible to complete a degree program that does not include such certification/licensure.  Similarly, if, in the judgment of the voting program faculty, a student seeking certification is not suited to further pursuit of that certification (as might happen in programs that prepare school teachers, administrators, counselors and psychologists), that student will be offered the option of completing a degree without certification. This latter instance most frequently occurs when that student has failed to succeed in one of more field placements and/or has demonstrated temperamental/emotional issues causing concern about recommending to the certifying/licensing agency that the student be granted certified/licensed.
  3. Termination of Doctoral Studies:  A student that fails either the Doctoral Qualifying Examination or the Doctoral General Examination, does not garner approval for the dissertation proposal, or ultimately fails to defend his/her dissertation successfully will no longer be eligible to pursue doctoral studies. In such cases, the student may be offered, instead, the opportunity to receive a master’s degree, through meeting its requirements.

The college and university have appropriate appeal processes designed to assure students have access to due process.  For details of those processes, please see the College of Education Grievance Procedures section elsewhere in this handbook.

Criminal and Health Clearances for Students in College of Education Programs

This policy covers the clearance requirement of field-based or research experience in child-focused settings as part of the degree or certification program (referred to as “field experience” in the rest of this document) for all professionals-in-training in all College of Education (COE) programs. For purposes of this policy, child-focused settings include all schools and organizations whose activities involve children from birth through age 21. Examples of such organizations include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Civic organizations; for example, Scouts
  • Religious organizations; for example, Sun. School, CCD
  • Community education organizations; for example, YMCA/YWCA, PBA athletic teams
  • Youth and family service agencies; for example, Broughal Family Center, Pinebrook Family Services, Valley Youth House
  • Social/support groups; for example, Children of Divorce, LGBTQI youth services, social skills groups
  • Residential settings   

This policy aligns with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) regulation that is intended to protect children and reflects changes to Section 111 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code (referred to as “School Code” in the rest of this document) effective September 28, 2011.

Program Requirements

This policy represents the minimum requirements for programs and professionals-in-training with respect to criminal and health clearances. Individual programs and/or child-focused settings can set more stringent requirements.

Clearance Requirement

All COE students who come into contact with children through field experience are required to obtain and present the following original and current (not older than one year) clearance documents to the Office of Professional Certification:

Pennsylvania and federal criminal clearances provide a record of all arrests, charges and convictions:

  • PA State Police Criminal Records Check (Act 34)
  • PA Child Abuse Clearance (Act 151)
  • Federal Criminal History Record (Act 114) 

The health clearance provides a record of tuberculosis:

  • Mantoux Tuberculosis Screening; result of a chest X-ray; or blood test

Professionals-in-training who are currently employed by a school district and have clearances on file in that district may complete a School Clearances Waiver obtained from the Office of Professional Certification. The original document signed by an authorized school district official must be presented to the Office of Professional Certification.  A waiver on file in the Office of Professional Certification allows a professional-in-training to complete field experiences in that particular school district. In order to be eligible for field experiences in other PreK-12 settings, professionals-in-training must obtain and present all four original and current clearance documents to the Office of Professional Certification. Any of the criminal or health clearances that are not on file with a school district must be presented to the Office of Professional Certification as original and current documents.

Notification of Clearance Requirement (see the Office of Professional Certification)

The COE notifies professionals-in-training of its clearance requirement in multiple ways. 

  • College of Education Acknowledgement of College Policy on Clearances requires applicants to acknowledge the policy in order to submit a complete online application
  • Letter of admission to a COE program signed by the dean reminds prospective professionals-in-training to apply for their clearances as outlined on the COE website
  • Detailed clearance information, including application instructions, from the Office of Professional Certification via email to all newly matriculated professionals-in-training 

Responsibilities of Professionals-in-Training

Upon admission to any of the COE’s five programs, prospective professionals-in-training bear sole responsibility for obtaining all four clearance documents, including the specific actions noted below. 

  • Applying for clearances upon admission to a COE program
  • Maintaining current clearances throughout the degree or certification program
  • Pursuing all actions required in response to a clearance outcome; for example, expungement proceedings
  • Providing original clearance documents for authorized review in a child-focused setting  

Criminal Clearance Record

Seven categories of criminal record emerge from the School Code:  

Category 1: “No record exists” qualifies professionals-in-training for a field experience. The following notations are deemed equivalent to “no record exists”:

  • Non-conviction/Quashed/Dismissed/Demurrer Sustained
  • Non-conviction/Nolle prossed/Withdrawn

Category 2: School Code Section 111(e) crimes: The School Code permanently excludes from school employment individuals convicted of a Section 111(e) crime. The COE permanently excludes such individuals from field experience.

Category 3: Felony offenses: The School Code states that conviction of any felony of the first, second or third degree, not listed in School Code Section 111(e), prohibits individuals from school employment for ten years after the expiration of the sentence. The COE permanently excludes such individuals from field experience. 

Category 4: First-degree misdemeanors: The School Code states that conviction of any first-degree misdemeanor, with the exception of a second conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (DUI), prohibits individuals from school employment for five years after the completion of the sentence. The COE excludes such individuals from field experience for five years after completion of the sentence.  After this five-year exclusion, the COE will determine eligibility for field experience on a case-by-case basis as described below.

Category 5: DUI second offense: The School Code states that a second DUI conviction prohibits individuals from school employment for three years after the completion of the sentence for the most recent offense. The COE excludes such individuals from field experience for three years after completion of the sentence for the most recent offense. After this three-year exclusion, the COE will determine eligibility for field experience on a case-by-case basis as described below. 

Category 6: Second- and third-degree misdemeanors and summary offenses: The School Code allows discretion in the employment of individuals convicted of second- and third-degree misdemeanors and summary offenses. A DUI first offense is included in this category. The COE will determine eligibility for field experience on a case-by-case basis as described below.  

Category 7: Arrest or charge, without conviction, of crimes in categories 2-5:  The School Code allows discretion in the employment of individuals who have been arrested or charged, but not convicted, of crimes in categories 2-5 above. The COE will determine eligibility for field experience on a case-by-case basis as described below.  

Actions Related to Clearance Record Categories

Categories 2-3: Permanent Exclusion from Field Experience and Withdrawal from Certification Program:  When a professional-in-training has been convicted of a crime described in categories 2-3, such an individual is permanently excluded from field experience. Because this exclusion will prevent the individual from successfully completing courses that require field experience, he or she becomes unable to complete the certification program and must withdraw from it. This individual is required to sign and submit an original Acknowledgement of Criminal Record Ineligibility for Field Placement to the Office of Professional Certification.

Categories 4-7: Eligibility for Field Experience:  Determination of eligibility. Eligibility for field experience is determined by the program director and the Director of the Office of Teacher Certification (referred to as “Office of Professional Certification director” in the rest of this document), in consultation with other university offices, as appropriate. The purpose of case-by-case determination regarding eligibility for field experience in categories 4-7 is to insure a safe environment for all children in child-focused settings and to acknowledge the human condition of indiscretion and non-constructive choices. The COE strives to balance these equally important considerations in administering this policy. The following case-by-case circumstances will be considered in determining eligibility for field experience:

  • The nature of the arrest/charge/conviction, including ramifications in a child-focused setting

  • Recidivism (multiple arrests/charges/convictions related to a single crime and various crimes)

  • Time elapsed since most recent arrest/charge/completion of the sentence for the most recent conviction

  • Compelling evidence of rehabilitation

Professionals-in-training must be aware that, while the COE may determine that an individual with a category 4-7 record is eligible for field experience, personnel in a child-focused setting retain the right to decide whether or not they will host such an individual for field experience.  The Acknowledgement of College of Education Policy on Clearances signed and submitted with the COE application advises applicants of this caveat. 

If the COE determines that a professional-in-training with a category 4-7 record is eligible for field experience, the Office of Professional Certification will pursue an appropriate placement until the second refusal. Once a second child-focused setting has refused to host an individual because of this record, the Office of Professional Certification will no longer pursue a field placement on this individual’s behalf. In keeping with COE field placement procedures, a professional-in-training may locate a field placement host and provide this information to the Coordinator of Teacher Field Placements (Coordinator) in the Office of Professional Certification, who will arrange the placement details. The Coordinator must receive this information no later than Friday of the third week of classes. All field placement experiences must be completed through the Office of Professional Certification. 

When a child-focused setting agrees to host a professional-in-training with a category 4-7 record, an authorized official of the host institution signs and submits an original Acknowledgement of Criminal Record Placement to the Office of Professional Certification.

If the COE determines that a professional-in-training with a category 4-7 record is not eligible for field experience, the individual is notified in writing by the Office of Professional Certification director and is asked to sign and submit an original Acknowledgement of Criminal Record Ineligibility for Field Placement to the Office of Professional Certification. 

Appeal of ineligibility. Professionals-in-training who have been ruled ineligible for field experience as a result of a category 4-7 record have the right to appeal this decision. To do so, they should follow the Course-related Non-Grade Grievance process (see the Grievances section of the program handbook or the Education and Human Services department manual).

Categories 4-5: Eligibility for PDE Certification:  As noted above, a category 4 conviction (first-degree misdemeanors) prohibits individuals from school employment for five years after the completion of the sentence and a category 5 conviction (DUI second offense) prohibits individuals from school employment for three years after the completion of the sentence for the most recent offense. Professionals-in-training must be aware that PDE may withhold a certificate for the period of time during which an individual is prohibited from school employment.

Notice of Arrest or Conviction

The College requires that any professional-in-training who is currently enrolled in a degree or certification program must notify the Office of Professional Certification within seventy-two (72) hours of an arrest, charge or conviction that occurred since the most recent criminal clearances were submitted to the Office of Professional Certification. 

Health Clearance Record

The Mantoux Tuberculosis Screening must be “negative”; the result of a chest X-ray must be “clear”; or the result of a blood test must be “negative” as documented by the signature of a licensed medical professional. Any other outcome disqualifies professionals-in-training from a field experience. 

Clearance Record Confidentiality

Any professional-in-training whose criminal clearance record indicates other than “no record exists” (meaning a category 2-7 record) or whose health clearance record indicates other than “negative” or “clear” must discuss the record with the Office of Professional Certification director. In order to determine the individual’s status with regard to field placement and program or degree enrollment, this information may be shared with other university personnel in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

In addition, child-focused settings that host field placements may request to review a professional-in-training’s criminal and health clearances.

For additional information, please visit the Office of Professional Certification website.