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Pass/fail grading to be examined at UNC

Students might soon be able to declare more academic courses for pass/fail grading if a proposed undergraduate academic policy change is approved.

University policy allows a student to have a maximum of 11 hours of pass/fail credit in his or her entire undergraduate career. Students have to record a C- or better to pass the class.

Bobbi Owen, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, said the idea for a change to this policy came up during a review of the undergraduate bulletin last semester.

During the review, it was discovered that the School of Education offers a 12-hour pass/fail course, which is not compliant with the University’s 11-hour policy.

At its Wednesday meeting, the educational policy committee discussed the proposed change, which would allow students to graduate with as many as 12 hours of pass/fail credit.

Owen said she doesn’t know how long the 12-hour course has been offered, but it was just brought to her attention in the fall.

“Our question is, how do we reconcile practice with policy?” she said.

Sidney Havas, a freshman biology major from Greensboro, said she likes the idea of extending the limit on pass/fail credit hours.

Last semester, Havas declared her Economics 101 class pass/fail. She said having that option helped her out.

“It definitely would’ve dragged down my GPA,” she said

The committee also considered re-evaluating the pass/fail grading system of the education school and requiring the school to grade the 12-hour course in the traditional letter-grade style.

“Do we take it as given that only a pass/fail grade is suitable for a teaching course?” said Michael Sale?mi, chairman of the economics department.

Jennifer Coble, a lecturer in the biology department, said it is difficult to have a clear, objective standard for grading a student-teacher, which is an aspect of the course in question.

“Personally, I would like to be able to have an A, B, C grading for that course,” she said.

Because there was no representative from the School of Education present at the meeting, committee members decided to wait to undertake a thorough review of the University’s pass/fail policy.

“All we’re saying is this is a bigger issue than a quick-fix issue,” Sale?mi said. “We cannot act with a couple hours deliberation.”

At a later time, the committee plans to determine whether new policy guidelines should be adopted for the University, or an exception should be made for the School of Education.

“It’s a policy committee, and to create an exception is to invite other exceptions,” Sale?mi said.

The committee delayed voting and planned to gather more information before making a decision.

“There are as many reasons to want (the teaching course) to be graded as there are not, and that just shows how complicated the issue is,” said Andrew Perrin, associate professor of sociology.

But Perrin emphasized the importance of taking action now that a discrepancy has been found.

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