April 11, 2008
To: Committee on Academic Policies and Standards
From: Chris Bakkum, Ph.D.
Re: Review of Drop Limit Policy
Attached is the UW-L policy on withdrawal from classes. As part of our work with implementing the new student information system, we need to ask CAPS to take a look at the policy and to consider eliminating the 4 drop limit. In order to do that, CAPS will need to think about what the purpose of the 4 drop limit is and whether or not we can accomplish that same purpose in another manner.
In 1988, the Board of Regents passed a resolution requiring UW System institutions to monitor course drop rates and to not exceed a drop rate of 5% of the credit hours registered (as reported on 10th day of enrollment). This was in response to action taken by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance. To help you understand the background on this issue, I have attached the 2006 UW System Undergraduate Course Drop Rate Report. The report provides some historical context for this issue and includes a chart reflecting UW System institution’s compliance with the Board of Regents policy.
Teri Thill obtained our drop rates from 2006 (2.2%) and 2005 (2.1%) from the UW System Office of Policy Analysis and Research (OPAR). UW System as a whole has been in compliance with the state policy (5% or less) for the last 15 years. OPAR believes the “W” grade posted on a student’s transcript is a deterrent to dropping classes.
UW-L is one of 3 UW System institutions that uses a drop limit. Steven’s Point and Stout are the others. It is likely that Stout will also be reviewing and changing this policy in the next 6 months. Other institutions charge extra for dropping courses after a certain time. For example, UW-Parkside assesses a $15 per credit fee for courses dropped after the 11th day of the semester. Platteville and Superior have similar policies. The rest of the UW System institutions rely on the “W” showing on the transcript as a deterrent to dropping classes after the first 1-4 weeks of class. This includes Madison, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Oshkosh, River Falls and Whitewater. In 2006, UW-Green Bay had the lowest percentage of drops in the System at 1.9%. Green Bay does not have a drop limit or a fee assessment for dropping. UW Oshkosh had the highest drop percentage at 5.2%. They also do not have drop limit or a fee assessment for dropping.
I would be happy to try to obtain additional information that the committee may need in order to make a decision about how to address this request. Thanks for your consideration of the request.