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New satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading offered for honors courses, Barrett says

Barrett, the Honors College announced the new grading option Wednesday evening in an email to students


An ASU Barrett The Honors College sign pictured on campus in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019.

Barrett, the Honors College will allow students to switch to a "Y" grading option for all HON prefix courses, the college announced in an email to students Wednesday evening. 

"Given the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, this spring 2020, Barrett has agreed that honors students may request to be evaluated with a "Y" grade instead of a letter grade in HON prefix honors courses," an email from the Barrett Advising Office states.

Students should notify their professors by May 1, the email said. Classes like The Human Event, History of Ideas, internship credits and special topics are included in the option. Honors thesis projects and independent studies already include a pass/fail option. 

A "Y" grade is different from the pass/fail grading offered at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, a University official said. A "Y" grade refers to a satisfactory grade and "is generally used as a grade for successfully completed internships, projects, readings and conference, research, seminars, theses, dissertations and workshops," the ASU student grading website said. 

The "Y" grade has been encouraged by the University as a more flexible grading option for students due to the challenges COVID-19 has presented them. A "Y" grade does not count toward a student's GPA, but still allows students to earn the hours from a course.

READ MORE: ASU Student Bar Association voices concerns over new grading system

A University official confirmed in an email that the only school with a pass/fail option is the law school thanks to a pre-existing policy the school had. The pass/fail policy at the law school does not affect a student's GPA.

"The 'Y' option can be used by individual faculty members, but there are no schools or colleges that have moved to uniform 'Y,'" the University official said. "Each faculty member has the flexibility to determine use of the 'Y' grade and to make other accommodations/adjustments based on individual student circumstances."

Since the transition to online courses, students have called for the option of pass/fail grading for all ASU courses.

In a previous interview with The State Press, ASU President Michael Crow said the option of pass/fail grading would be left to faculty members in a class by class basis and that ASU "will definitively not do a pass/fail option on a University-wide basis."

Barrett is encouraging faculty who teach honors sections of courses outside Barrett to make the switch and allow students to select "Y" grades, but they are not required to do so. 

Additionally, Barrett also announced that it will be offering classes online over the summer to help students who may be low on the number of honors credits required to graduate. The email said specific courses will be announced soon. 

The courses announced with the "Y" grade option are typically for freshmen and sophomores, George Dicke, a junior finance major, who is a Barrett student said.

For Barrett students opting instead to pursue honors contracts in classes, rather than HON prefix courses offered, the announcement does little to help, Dicke said.

"I think if I was a freshman in, say Human Event or something, I would be ecstatic about this because those classes are humanities-related classes which are a little stranger when it comes to grades," Dicke said.

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Wyatt MyskowProject Manager

Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.

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