Northwestern implements grading flexibility, including temporary Credit/No Credit option


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Isabelle Sarraf, Campus Editor

Northwestern announced Friday that it plans to implement a temporary Credit/No Credit grading option in order to provide flexibility for students this academic year due to the pandemic.

The new option will fulfill any academic requirement, Provost Kathleen Hagerty said in an email. These grades won’t bear an impact on a student’s GPA, but rather denote whether a student has completed and earned credit for a course (CR) or has not (NC).

Students will have the option in early summer 2021 to change up to one-third of their classes this academic year to CR or NC grades, Hagerty wrote. The University is implementing this option so students can understand the “full impact” of this year on their academic performance before making their decisions. Traditional Pass/No Pass grading options will also still be available this year.

This spring, the University implemented a universal P/NP grading system for undergraduates. But in her email, Hagerty wrote the NU community was divided over that decision, with “some feeling it deprived them of the opportunity to show improvement or to distinguish themselves.”

The University’s move to allow a CR/NC option comes after Associated Student Government passed a referendum with 86 percent of the vote to implement optional P/NP grading options this fall. 

One widely-circulated petition for optional P/NP had garnered over 500 signatures, and the ASG referendum received 647 votes. The petition cited COVID-19, political unrest and unequal access to technology as reasons to create a P/NP option.

“Our goal is to provide you with relief now and balance that with maximum optionality, considering the uncertainty of the coming months,” Hagerty wrote.

Seniors who graduate this fall or winter will have two weeks after they graduate to decide whether they want to denote their classes as CR/NC. Those graduating this academic year and currently taking a full-time courseload in the fall can choose to elect one CR/NC class at the end of Fall Quarter.

Hagerty said more detail about the CR/NC option, including the maximum number of courses that can be taken for CR/NC and early election for seniors will be posted to the Office of the Registrar website early next week.

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