Pass/No Pass option now available on most classes

After students lobbied for pass/fail, the opt-in policy was instituted.

After students lobbied for pass/fail, the opt-in policy was instituted.

Due to vocal demand from students across both campuses, NVU Provost Nolan Atkins announced that students could now change the grading option on their classes to Pass/No Pass.

The policy is completely opt-in, and requires students to fill out a form online for each class they would like opted in.

Pass/No Pass, abbreviated as P/NP, is a standard of grading that does not affect GPA. Instead of a letter grade on a students’ transcript, it will show as “P” or “NP.”

At the end of the semester, professors will still issue grades to the registrar’s office. If students have opted in to the P/NP system, the registrar will issue those, rather than a grade.

P/NP is already utilized in some classes at NVU, but many universities across the country have pivoted to a total system of opt-in P/NP.  NVU Provost Nolan Atkins noted that the policy change was due to student input, rather than an administration-driven effort. “We heard from them,” he said. “We’ve had students reach out on both campuses saying, ‘Hey, this would be really helpful.’”

Because of the student input, Atkins noted that it is up to each student to decide for themselves about P/NP. “It’s completely student-driven,” he said. “They will have to fill out a form and move it forward.”

Pre-Med student Luna Crowley drafted a petition called “Change NVU-J grade system to Opt-In Pass/Fail,” which garnered nearly 300 signatures in two weeks.

“I am calling to Northern Vermont University to create an opt-in option for a pass/fail grading system for the remainder of mandatory online instruction due COVID-19,” reads the petition. “It is of no one’s fault that NVU was forced to move instruction to online, but it is important to give recognition, flexibility and validation to students who are unemployed, displaced, dealing with family members who may be sick, and now have no choice but online instruction.”

In an interview, Crowley elaborated on the importance of kindness to students whose lives may be upended.

The deadline has been moved back to May 14, the end of the semester, so that students have a while to decide if they want this semesters’ grades to affect their GPA.

Unfortunately, several sections of students are unable to opt-in to the P/NP system on their classes. Education majors require grades of B or above for licensure in Vermont. Students on the GI bill also require letter grades.

Dean’s List and President’s List awards will be based on letter grades, which will still be recorded, outside of the student’s transcript. “That’s just to ensure an even playing field,” said Atkins, “ensuring equity in terms of how those honors are distributed.”

While it isn’t mandatory to meet with an advisor or professor before changing a class to P/NP, it is highly encouraged. Atkins stressed that the change could be positive for some students, but that they should take the time to think about the consequences of P/NP on a students’ educational future. “Some graduate schools will look for grades in particular courses,” he said, “and if you opt to take that course as P/NP then the grade won’t be on your transcript.”

Fortunately, financial aid will not be affected.

The form can be found here.