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Saint Mary’s to update grading policy for spring semester

| Thursday, April 2, 2020

Saint Mary’s Dean of Student Academic Services Karen Chambers announced new changes to the grading policies for the spring semester in an email to undergraduates Thursday.

Earlier this month, the College adopted a more generous pass/fail grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester, Chambers said, which includes the option to declare Sophia and general elective courses for pass/fail credit until the last day of the semester.

The updated policies include the option to withdraw from any course until the last day of the semester — April 30 — without penalty. All withdrawals that occur after mid-semester break will be treated as withdraw/pass. Chambers said this serves as a way to take no credit and no grade in any course. Additionally, students may withdraw from a class without permission from a faculty member up to April 30.

There will be a notation on all student transcripts that acknowledges that a global pandemic during the spring 2020 semester led to unusual enrollment patterns and grades, the email said.

Chambers clarified that the option for pass/fail grading will not be extended to major and minor courses.

Our goal was to think through the academic consequences of the current disruption to our teaching and learning environment, Chambers said in the email. “Throughout the conversations, there was consideration and concern for questions around equity, access, engagement, and academic integrity.

According to the email, faculty were concerned students would be unprepared for courses in the future after the implementation of pass/fail. “

One of the primary concerns of faculty about adopting pass/fail for courses in the major is that this would result in a lack of assurance of preparedness for subsequent courses. It might also result in an inability to potentially count P/F classes on applications for certain graduate programs, professional programs and licensure, she said.

Chambers said Thursday’s message comes in response to several messages — including a petition signed by many Saint Mary’s students — regarding grading as a result of the transition to remote courses.

The email said the College also understands that students have very different learning environments across many different time zones and varied access to technologies.

In response, many faculty are delivering their curriculum asynchronously; this means that you are able to access the course materials at times that are favorable for your learning and individual situation, Chambers said in the email.

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