Campus adapts remainder of the semester to pass/fail

On March 25, Provost and Dean of the College Dr. Patrice DiQuinzio sent an email to the campus announcing Washington College’s decision to grade courses for the remainder of the semester pass/fail. WC is joining the ranks of other colleges and universities who have adapted to pass/fail in response to the pandemic. 

“This change will not only reduce students’ stress and anxiety about grades but it also recognizes that working from a remote location, students may be in very different positions with respect to internet access, time zone differences, and other family or health concerns,” Dean DiQuinzio said in the email. 

According to the March 25 email, professors will continue to submit final letter grades for students, which the registrar will then convert to “P” or “F.” Any grade other than “F” is a passing grade. 

This change will apply to all courses for which students would normally earn a letter grade, including Student Capstone Experiences in those departments that give them a letter grade. Those departments that award honors in the major based on the SCE will still be able to do so.

In a follow up email on March 26, Dean DiQuinzio said that the College considered giving students the choice to opt in or not to pass/fail grading, but ultimately decided against it.

“We have no manageable way of keeping track of which students are taking which courses pass/fail and which students are not. Even if we could develop a mechanism, we would have to set a short deadline for making that choice,” Dean DiQuinzio said in the email. 

The all pass/fail grading system allows for both sets of grades and lets you choose which grades to show, according to Dean DiQuinzio.

“Your transcript will show pass/fail grades for spring 2020 courses, with a note stating that all WC courses were graded pass/fail that semester. So if you do not want or need to show your letter grades to anyone, you do not have to. But if you do need to show your letter grades, you can,” Dean DiQuinzio said.

The registrar will also keep an official record of spring 2020 final letter grades to determine whether students are making the satisfactory academic progress needed to remain eligible for federal and state financial aid, to determine students’ academic standing and to calculate seniors’ cumulative and major grade point averages for degree completion and Latin honors, Dean DiQuinzio said in the email.

If any student needs to report final letter grades from spring 2020 for graduate or professional school applications, employment, teacher certification, or to maintain eligibility for certain student discounts, the registrar will produce an official letter verifying the grades and send it to the organizations that require them. 

“It is our current policy that passing grades have no impact on a student’s semester or cumulative grade point average, but “f” grades are calculated into the student’s cumulative GPA. That policy will be in effect for spring 2020,” Dean DiQuinzio said.  

Any “D” grades that students earn for the spring semester will not count toward the limit of no more than six.

As part of going pass/fail, there will be no dean’s list for the spring 2020 semester. 

“Given the amount of work that my staff is dealing with in this very difficult situation in which we are all working at home and confronting many unusual and unprecedented situations for faculty and students, this decision is a matter of workload. Right now, I cannot guarantee that anyone will have the time to calculate dean’s list for the semester,” Dean DiQuinzio said in the March 26 email. 

The decision of not having the dean’s list this semester will be reevaluated later this semester. 

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