Editorial: UTA must implement pass/fail grading beginning in spring 2020

Plans to implement a temporary pass/fail grade policy were announced Nov. 25, following a similar announcement by UT-Austin made the same day. The policy was considered after members of Student Government made a request Nov. 19, according to an Office of the Provost email sent Tuesday.

UTA should implement pass/fail early at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester in order to improve students' college experience. The decision to offer pass/fail this semester was made 20 days after the last day to drop a course, too late for students who have already dropped, failed or mentally checked out of their courses.

Students who choose the pass/fail option will not earn grade points for the academic credits earned, according to previous reporting by The Shorthorn. A pass grade for a course will not impact a student’s GPA, but all other grades, including a fail grade, will.

Implementation of pass/fail for the spring semester would signal an understanding from administration and a collective effort to support the student body during the pandemic while everyone is dealing with strenuous personal challenges.

In October, Student Government conducted a Maverick Opinion Board survey to gauge students’ feelings about the semester. More than 75 students commented on their dissatisfaction.

The transition to online remote learning is still new for students juggling economic instability, an ongoing health crisis and social climates in flux. Students are experiencing lasting existential dread, and the least the university can do to show its support is implementing pass/fail for the spring and recognizing everyone is experiencing a unique situation.

Students have expressed frustration with online school via social media, and Daryn Trube, marketing and management senior, organized an online petition with more than 1,200 signatures to implement a pass/fail grading option.

While the university may have concerns that without the traditional grading system students’ motivation toward academic performance will decline, evidence has shown it yields increased student satisfaction and well-being and no differences in academic performance.

With students voicing concerns about online learning and the ongoing pandemic, students should reach out to administrators to ensure early implementation. Finalizing a decision about pass/fail for the spring semester early will allow students to prepare and continue their education through uncertain times knowing they have options.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Spencer Brewer; Editor-in-Chief Shay Cohen; news editor Angelica Perez; Cecilia Lenzen, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Chris Amaya; David Silva Ramirez, life and entertainment reporter; and copy editor Andrew Walter.


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