Examining NEIU’s pass/fail policy

March 26, 2020

Following Northeastern Illinois University’s decision to suspend face-to-face instruction for the remainder of its Spring semester, NEIU students began circulating a petition demanding that the school offer pass/fail options. In response, the university extended its existing pass/fail option to April 27.

Hosted on Change.org, the petition cites NEIU student’s inability to escape “toxic households” and the subsequent inability to concentrate on school work.

The petition also reads that the uncertainty surrounding novel coronavirus COVID-19 “has created an unnecessary amount of stress on students (unemployment/income, tuition, health, family, and housing) many students are worried about their health, their family’s financial situations, and how this can affect their grades and their classes.”

NEIU’s pass/fail options allows undergraduate students in good academic standing to forego traditional letters grades in favor of electing a pass or fail model.

Students who complete pass/fail courses are awarded with either a “P,” which indicates that a student successfully completed the course, or an “F,” signifying that students failed the course. While a “P” does not reflect on a student’s grade point average (GPA), an “F” will.

According to the university’s website, students are permitted to take one pass/fail course per semester. Up to 18 credit hours, including credit hours completed at other universities, are eligible to be applied toward graduation.

However, the university disqualifies students from selecting its pass/fail grading model for “General Education-Distributive Learning, developmental, Honors, tutored study, independent study, ENGL-101, and College of Business and Management courses, or a course used to fulfill a major or minor requirement.”

Below is a full description of NEIU’s pass/fail policy, per the university’s website:

  1. The Pass/Fail option is available only to students in good standing (cannot be on academic probation) at the undergraduate level.
  2. The Pass/Fail option is not allowed for General Education-Distributive Learning, developmental, Honors, tutored study, independent study, ENGL-101, and College of Business and Management courses, or a course used to fulfill a major or minor requirement.
  3. Students are eligible to exercise the Pass/Fail option only after accumulating 15 hours in residency (courses taken at Northeastern).
  4. Eligible students will be permitted only one pass/fail course per term. A maximum of 18 pass/fail hours, including transfer courses from other institutions, may be applied toward graduation but may not be counted toward a student’s major area of concentration, minor, or General Education-Distributive Learning.
  5. Declaration of the intention to select the Pass/Fail option must be made no later than the 10th day of the term by submitting a completed Pass/Fail Grade Option form to Enrollment Management Services. The decision to select the Pass/Fail option may not be changed after that date.
  6. A grade of “P” will be used to indicate that the student has passed the course and a grade of “F” that the student has failed the course. This “F” will be included in the grade point average.
  7. Instructors may offer courses restricted to pass/fail registration with approval from the appropriate college curricular governance committee, and by the Faculty Council on Academic Affairs either at the time of initial course approval or subsequently. Hours of credit carried by such a course(s) will be part of the maximum of 18 hours which have been approved for the general Pass/Fail option.
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