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University Of Pittsburgh Allows Professors To Give Students Passing Grades For Missing Assignments
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally outside the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The University of Pittsburgh has reconfigured its grading policy to allow students to receive a passing grade for incomplete or missing assignments. 

According to an announcement from the university’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, professors will now be able to give students a passing “G” grade for assignments that are incomplete before the end of the semester. 

“G” grades were temporary placeholders for incomplete or missing assignments, when an assignment was not turned in the “G” grade became a “no grade” or “NG.” Now, professors can alter the “G” grading system and give a student a letter grade for an assignment that was never turned in. 

“This new process will allow a ‘fallback grade’ to be recorded in cases where a student has done enough to achieve a passing grade in a course but would like more time to finish some well-defined final assignments,” said Vice Provost Joseph McCarthy. “As with all G grades, you will need to work out those details with your instructor.” 

According to Campus Reform, during a University Senate’s Faculty Affairs committee meeting, McCarthy confirmed that “fall back grades” — the term for giving students letter grades for incomplete work — can be used in the interim. 

“In fact, the only thing that we are changing is allowing faculty to have the option of note — at the time that they award the G grade — the grade to which an expired G grade should revert,” McCarthy said. “If a faculty member were to note a ‘fallback grade’ then expired G grades will revert to the identified fallback grade instead.”

The university initially offered pass/fail grading options to students in the fall semester to aid with the stress of the global pandemic, though it transitioned back to regular grading as the pandemic began to wane. 

According to Pitt News, some professors at the university are proponents of the new grading system and believe that the stress of the pandemic is ongoing for students. Ilia Murtazashvili, an associate professor from the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs, said that students are still unable to perform at normal standards. 

“You need to recognize that what constitutes ‘A’ work in the pandemic is different from what constitutes ‘A’ work in normal times,” Murtazashvili said. “People should be able to get an ‘A,’ even if they’ve been at 50 percent ability to do their work or less the past year.”

Grading structures are shifting in light of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the push for “equity” in both higher education and the K-12 education system. According to Fox News, the Virginia Department of Education is considering ending advanced diplomas state-wide in the name of equity. 

The shift in rigorous grading to more equitable grading in American education has been critiqued by many who view China as a growing threat. New York Post columnist Miranda Devine opined that the push for equity and “critical race theory” will leave American children behind their Chinese counterparts. 

“While 15-year-olds in China blitz their peers in the West in math, reading, and science, we are warping the minds of our children by indoctrinating them,” Devine wrote. “It is a recipe for social upheaval and mental illness, not success.”


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