GradesFirst Helps Athletes Maintain Better GPA

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By Kelly Reed
Staff Writer

MONTICELLO – Student athletes’ GPA climbs on the University of Arkansas-Monticello campus after the implementation of a new grade reporting system, GradesFirst, two years ago.

   The GradesFirst system is a new tool utilized by the Department of Athletics in order to make the grade reporting process more streamlined. Previously, student athletes brought paper progress reports to professors. This proved, over time, to be inefficient.

   The GradesFirst system is an Internet program that provides professors with a secure way to report on student athletes. Professors can report on whether or not a student is at risk of failing a course, number of absences, current grade and allows professors to comment on their student athletes.

   According to Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Academic Services Amy Fenolia, the information gathered on student athletes is used, “to identify the student athletes who may be at academic risk and organize support services to help them succeed in the classroom.”

   The main obstacle remaining to the GradesFirst system doing its part for student athletes is professor participation. However, this semester looks promising for professor participation. Of 2,209 progress reports, professors returned 1,685, for just over a 76% return rate.

   “We cannot thank the professors enough for the feedback,” Fenolia said.

   Although the GradesFirst system began operation two years ago, results can be noticed within the student athlete population.

   “We have noticed an increase in the number of student-athletes who have at least a 3.0 GPA every year since we started the program,” Fenolia said. This Fall, 107 of 241 student athletes maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher, up from 83 student athletes in Spring 2011. Continued cooperation between UAM professors and the Department of Athletics could mean continued increases in the GPA of UAM student athletes.

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