WKU offering Pass/D/Fail option for spring semester
By Dr. Cheryl Stevens, WKU Provost

Posted on March 31, 2020 1:22 PM


In the spirit of flexibility, we have developed a grading policy option for this semester only. After consultation with deans, department heads, senate executive committee, chief academic officers at other universities, faculty senators, registrars, financial aid personnel, and accrediting bodies, this decision was made to help students successfully complete this semester.

This policy, called Pass/D/Fail (PDF), is designed to maintain academic standards and meet accrediting requirements while at the same time providing choice and flexibility for both undergraduate and graduate students as they navigate this challenging time. The details of this new policy follow. Please review the policy for a full understanding of how this option will work.

In light of the pandemic, for the spring 2020 semester, WKU will add a Pass/D/Fail option (PDF) for undergraduate and graduate students. Many universities have adjusted their grading policies because Covid19 has so dramatically disrupted the lives of students and faculty; economically challenged students face severe technology access issues; many faculty are shifting to an online modality for the first time in their careers; and significant uncertainty remains about the effects of the virus on the world, nation, higher education, students, staff, and faculty.

We have reviewed our own policies, federal regulations, and principles of accreditation; and consulted accrediting bodies, deans, department heads, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, registrars, financial aid personnel, information systems programmers, and a variety of other constituencies to develop this plan. The approach allows us to maintain academic standards and meet accrediting requirements while also providing flexibility for students as they weather this difficult time.  

  1. The default grading mode will be whatever grading mode was assigned to the course when the student initially registered. In most cases, courses use a standard letter grade (A-F).
  2. Students may choose to shift to PDF grading for each A-F class by May 8, the last class day of the semester. Students will receive a message from the Office of the Registrar explaining how to select this option. If no action is taken to shift to PDF by May 8, grades will be recorded with the original grading mode. The option will become available for students in mid-April; more information is forthcoming.
  3. Since grade mode is approved through the curriculum approval process, the Provost will grant a one-time exception for courses to shift modes to accommodate this emergent situation.
  4. This grade shift choice may not apply to licensure or other students because of accrediting rules in certain disciplines. Student athletes should work with the NCAA compliance officer to make the appropriate choices. Departments will work with the Registrar to identify courses for which Pass/D/Fail grading is not applicable because of accreditation or licensure standards.
  5. All students should consult with their advisors to select the better grade mode (PDF or  A-F) to ensure there are no unintended consequences.
  6. When faculty assign grades after final exams, they will enter grades utilizing the grading mode that was assigned to the course when the student initially registered.
  7. After grades have been recorded by faculty, grades for students who chose to shift to PDF will be converted to the PDF mode. A-C = Pass. 
  8. The Office of the Registrar may delay the final roll of grades to academic transcripts to ensure the academic records of students who have selected the PDF option are updated prior to final transcripts being released.
  9. Your Spring 2020 GPA will depend upon the A, B, C, D, or F grades you may receive. You should consult with your advisor to determine if switching to PDF grading mode will be beneficial to your academic standing.
  10. Courses in which a “P” is granted will fulfill any “C” or better policy for program requirements and will be considered to be a “C” or higher for online prerequisite checking.

Audits and Withdrawal Grades:  We will push the switch to audit courses and final withdrawal date to May 1 to give students additional time to make their decision. It is vital that students consult with their advisors before taking this drastic action.  Withdrawing from a course may impact financial aid. Students should contact The Office of Student Financial Assistance for help making this decision.


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