COLUMBIA, S.C. – It's possible for freshmen at Benedict College (search) to pass their classes, even if they fail every written exam.
That's because 60 percent of their final grade is just showing up and participating in class. The other 40 percent of their grade is earned through traditional test-taking and academic performance during their freshman year.
According to the SEE grading policy — which stands for Success Equals Effort (search) — the balance shifts as the student advances in school. In the sophomore year, effort is counted 40 percent while achievement is 60 percent. Then, in the final two years, a student is evaluated on achievement alone.
Milwood Motley, a biology professor fired from the school for refusing to follow the grading policy, said it was highly controversial from the start. He said he didn't think it was right to give a passing grade to a student who tried hard but didn't learn the basics.
"If I allowed a student to go to the advanced class knowing that the student would struggle in that other class, probably fail the class, I think I did that student a disservice," Motley said.
Motley and another fired professor are suing the school for infringing on their academic freedom (search). But others support the grading policy.
Some students say the policy is even more challenging than standard grading systems. A representative from the college wouldn't speak on camera but on the school's Web site, college President David Swinton defended the SEE policy, saying, "the emphasis on effort will result in an improvement of education outcomes for our students."
Click on the video box near the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Molly Henneberg.