View Bill 20-21-38

Senate Bill 20-21-38

Bill ID: 20-21-38
Name: Review of the Interim University of Maryland Grading Symbols and Notations Used on Academic Transcripts Policy
Proposed: 03/12/2021
Sponsor: SEC
Proposal: In Spring 2020, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University implemented an all pass/fail grading model as the default while allowing students to choose to receive letter grades in specific courses. The pass/fail restrictions also were removed for major and General Education requirements. Since this measure was implemented in response to immediate issues that arose as a result of the onset of the pandemic, in Fall 2020, the University returned to its standard grading method and pass/fail guidelines. In January 2021, in response to feedback from the University community, especially the students, the Senate leadership and Provost Rankin asked the SEC to consider proposed revisions to the University of Maryland Grading Symbols and Notations Used on Academic Transcripts Policy (III-6.20[A]) that change the Pass minimum grade equivalent from “D-” to “C-” and establish standard emergency guidelines that could be invoked by the President and Provost.

Following consultations with key administrators, a review of peer institution research, and extensive deliberation, on January 21, 2021, the SEC acted on behalf of the Senate to approve the proposed amendment to the policy and the guidelines. On January 25, 2021, the President approved on an interim basis, pending Senate review, the amendment to the Grading Symbols and Notations policy to change the Pass minimum grade equivalent from a “D-” to a “C-,” and the proposed Emergency Pass/Fail Guidelines. The SEC and Presidential approvals were provided so the amendment and guidelines could be effective at the start of the Spring 2021 semester.

Initially, the SEC charged the Academic Procedures & Standards (APAS) Committee with separate reviews of the revised interim policy and the emergency guidelines. Following feedback from Interim Provost Wylie, on March 12, 2021, the Senate leadership amended the charge and requested the committee to review the interim University of Maryland Grading Symbols and Notations Used on Academic Transcripts Policy. A separate review of the emergency guidelines would be charged to the APAS committee after its review of the interim Grading Symbols and Notations policy.
Active?Yes
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Status

Status: Completed
Completed On: 09/10/2021

History

Approval(s):
Presidential Approval: 09/10/2021
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Reviewed By: Senate
Received: 09/03/2021
Decision Date: 09/08/2021
Decision: The Senate voted to approve the report.
Next Step: Presidential Approval
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 08/19/2021
Decision Date: 08/26/2021
Decision: The SEC voted to place the item on the agenda of the September 8, 2021 Senate meeting for consideration.
Next Step: Senate Review
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Reviewed By: Academic Procedures & Standards (APAS) Committee
Received: 01/21/2021
Decision Date: 04/16/2021
Decision Due By: 11/05/2021
Decision: The APAS Committee voted to forward its recommendations to the SEC for consideration.
Actions: In its amended charge, the APAS Committee was asked to consider the impact of the amendment to change the Pass minimum grade equivalent on the undergraduate student experience. The committee reviewed the SEC’s action to recommend the amendment to the Pass minimum grade in January 2021 and the Pass minimum grade equivalents and information on emergency measures used due to the COVID-19 pandemic at Big 10 and other peer institutions. APAS consulted with representatives of the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, the Office of Undergraduate Studies, and the Office of the Registrar, as well as with the Division of Information Technology (DIT) and the Office of General Counsel.

The committee reviewed data from the Office of the Registrar on grade distributions over prior semesters, so the committee could better understand how the emergency measures to institute a pass/fail grading method in Spring 2020 compared with the use of the pass/fail method in other semesters. The committee also considered information on the impact of the pass/fail grading method on transfer students. The committee consulted with the DIT on the technical difficulties and requirements to change the Pass minimum grade equivalent and the level of effort that would be required for additional modifications.

During its review, APAS received feedback from administrators and faculty on the impact of the change from a Pass minimum of “D-” to “C-” by engaging with the Undergraduate Academic Programs (UGAP) Committee and the Undergraduate Programs Advising Committee (UPAC). The committee also consulted with the Senate Student Affairs Committee to gather student perspectives on the change of the Pass minimum grade equivalent.

The APAS Committee found there were minor unintended consequences related to the impacts on transfer students, as well as on advisors and others who need to communicate the new policy to students. The committee did not identify any major concerns of unintended consequences. During its discussions, the committee acknowledged that the higher Pass minimum may have a small impact on the ability of students to explore and test their capabilities. With the Pass at a D-, students were free to explore courses widely without harming their GPA or having to commit much effort to the courses themselves. However, APAS agreed that there is a higher benefit to ensuring that students who pass a course truly understand the content in some way, and found that receiving a D- does not demonstrate adequate understanding in order to pass the course.

The APAS Committee voted to affirm its approval of the change in the Pass minimum grade equivalent from a “D-” to a “C-.” The committee also voted to recommend a revision to the Grading Symbols and Notations policy to clarify that the “W” grading symbol would be used when a student withdraws from a course after the schedule adjustment period and that this policy revision be effective at the beginning of a semester to provide consistency to current students.
Next Step: SEC Review
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 01/14/2021
Decision Date: 01/21/2021
Decision: The SEC voted to charge the the Academic, Planning & Standards (APAS) Committee with review of the amendment.
Actions: The President approved the amendment on an interim basis. The SEC has charged the Academic, Planning & Standards (APAS) Committee with conducting a formal review of this action to ensure that there are no unintended consequences.
Next Step: Academic, Planning & Standards Committee Review
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