View Bill 21-22-15

Senate Bill 21-22-15

Bill ID: 21-22-15
Name: Review of the Interim Emergency Pass/Fail Guidelines
Proposed: 09/10/2021
Sponsor: Senate Executive Committee
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. Following the completion of that review, a separate review of the Interim Emergency Pass/Fail Guidelines would be charged to the APAS committee.

The SEC is now moving forward with that charge to the APAS Committee.
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Status: Completed


Presidential Approval: 04/08/2022
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Reviewed By: Senate
Received: 03/30/2022
Decision Date: 04/06/2022
Decision: The Senate voted to approve the proposal.
Next Step: Presidential Approval
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 03/07/2022
Decision Date: 03/14/2022
Decision Due By: 03/14/2022
Decision: The SEC voted to place the item on the agenda of the April 6, 2022 Senate meeting for consideration.
Next Step: Senate Review
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Reviewed By: Academic Procedures & Standards (APAS) Committee
Received: 09/24/2021
Decision Date: 02/02/2022
Decision Due By: 02/04/2022
Decision: The APAS Committee voted at its February 2, 2022 meeting to recommend that the current interim Emergency Pass-Fail Guidelines be removed and to recommend broad principles for developing future academic guidelines based on the type of emergency that the University is facing.
Actions: The APAS Committee began its review of the Interim Emergency Pass-Fail Guidelines in September 2021. The committee analyzed data on the implementation of the interim Emergency Pass/Fail Guidelines from the Office of the Registrar that provided the number of courses that students chose to take pass-fail during the Spring 2021 semester; addressed the impact of pass-fail grades on student success rates in subsequent years; and assessed the impact on the success of UMD graduates’ competitiveness for employment opportunities and admission to graduate programs. Throughout its review of the charge, the committee consulted with key stakeholders including representatives of the Senior Vice President and Provost, the Office of Undergraduate Studies, the Office of the Registrar, the Graduate School, and the Office of Institutional Research Planning & Assessment (IRPA).

Following its consideration of the data and information obtained through consultations, the APAS Committee developed a general direction of its recommendations and formed a working group to develop draft recommendations for the full committee’s consideration. In addition to the material considered by the full committee, the working group reviewed two relevant scholarly articles co-authored by one of the ex-officio members of the committee. The working group found these articles incredibly insightful and used them along with observations based on best practices from the University’s own trials through the three semesters during the height of the pandemic as the foundation to draft recommendations for the committee’s consideration. The working group also considered the principles associated with prioritizing student health and safety, including mental health.

The APAS committee reviewed and discussed the working group’s draft recommendations at its meeting on February 2, 2022. Following deliberation and some minor revisions, the APAS Committee unanimously voted to recommend that the current interim Emergency Pass-Fail Guidelines be removed and the University follow a broad set of principles, best practices, and other procedures to guide the development of any future academic guidelines based on the type of emergency that the University is facing at the time.
Next Step: SEC Review
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