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Students Given Pass/Fail Grading Option

Students Given Pass/Fail Grading Option

Mississippi College is among a growing number of institutions nationwide offering pass-fail grading options to students suddenly switching to online classes.

MC officials announced the move in late April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted school leaders to grant pass-fail options to students this Spring.

Loyola University in New Orleans, Tufts in Massachusetts and Wisconsin-Madison are among a long list of USA institutions recently making similar moves.

MC students can either stick with traditional letter grades or go to a pass-fail grading system for the current semester.

College officials nationwide say a pass-fail option permits students to focus on learning options rather than a letter grade.

Mississippi College students support the decision giving them more flexibility. MC’s nearly 5,000 students shifted to online classes at home the past six weeks due to the health emergency.

“Adjusting to the new system has been a bit stressful,” says MC student Ryan Seawright of Brandon. Suddenly shifting to online classes is hurting some students academically, he said. “This pass or fail option would be a ray of sunshine.”

English professor Steve Price supports giving students a pass-fail option. “I am so glad MC made the change. Students are grappling with so much this semester. And so much of what they’re facing, we as teachers don’t even know about.”

Allowing pass-fail, Price said, lets students “focus on the learning part of the class without risk to GPAs. We have enough risk and uncertainty right now. I’m glad our MC system gives students some choices and options. This is a good idea.”

The director of the Mississippi College Writing Center, Price stays in touch with students needing academic assistance year-round. For the past six weeks, all Writing Center help sessions are offered by student tutors online.

Details about MC’s new grading options for students are listed on COVID-19 updates on the university’s website. It is part of a wide array of information posted online as the Christian university responds to challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.

Students can keep letter grades assigned by their instructor or switch to pass-fail. Options apply to MC undergraduates and graduate students.

For example, A, B, and C grades could be converted to “P” with undergraduate students earning course credits. Pass grades won’t be counted in students’ overall GPA calculation. The grade of D would be switched to “X” and earn course credits. F is “fail” with the new option and no course credit is earned and will be counted in the students’ overall GPA.

There is a similar method for graduate students.

Students may prefer pass-fail after instructors grade courses on May 7. It can only happen once a form is signed by a student’s advisor. Forms may be submitted May 7-May 15.

Mississippi College officials say notations will be placed on transcripts of students that will note the grade change resulted from the global health emergency.