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University System of Georgia keeps letter grades after students push for pass/fail grading

Earlier this week, students asked the university system to consider a pass/fail option for grades

ATLANTA — The University System of Georgia is now definitively saying a pass/fail grading system will NOT be used for the spring 2020 semester.

This comes after an outcry from students who were pushing for a pass/fail system to be used instead of a traditional letter grade.

“The Board decided to keep standard letter grading systemwide only after careful consideration of the potential long-term impacts to our students from a shift pass/fail grading. Those factors included eligibility for financial aid and scholarships, admission to graduate school, and professional licensure,” the USG told 13WMAZ.

On Tuesday, dozens of students from every college in the state held a Zoom conference where they urged the system to use a pass/fail system citing a number of issues.

“As a student with learning disabilities, I feel like I’ve been disproportionately impacted,” said Candler Jones, a freshman at UGA.

The students argued the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was rocky. Many, they argued, don’t have access to high-speed internet.

“I am a student who did not have reliable access to the internet and was staying in a McDonald’s parking lot, past midnight, doing my homework,” explained another student, Briana Hayes.

Instead of a traditional grade from A to F, the said they should have a Pass/Fail option. Otherwise, they worry a poor letter grade could affect their GPA.

“With Pass/Fail, I would be able to keep up at the pace I’m at right now to keep my 3.0 requirement for the HOPE Scholarship,” said Garrett Meekins, a student at the University of North Georgia.

Many colleges across the country, including many Ivy League schools, have allowed the option of Pass/Fail during the pandemic.

Here is their full statement:

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has no higher priority than ensuring the health, safety, and success of our students, faculty and staff.

The Board decided to keep standard letter grading systemwide only after careful consideration of the potential long-term impacts to our students from a shift pass/fail grading. Those factors included eligibility for financial aid and scholarships, admission to graduate school, and professional licensure. 

These are truly unprecedented times, and we understand some of our students may be experiencing significant hardships. However, we are working hard to connect those students with critical resources. Despite the temporary shift to online only instruction, our institutions’ academic support networks remain intact and strong. We encourage our students to reach out to advisors, tutors, and faculty. The USG has also offered a significant number of resources to expand access to physical and mental health services, technology, and internet connectivity. 

The Board is confident the university system and our institutions will do everything in their power to help every student succeed. We trust our faculty to teach and grade students effectively, while also being compassionate and understanding of the life challenges we all find ourselves navigating now and in the months ahead. 

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