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pass-fail-deadline-extension
Credit: Isabella Cossu

Penn will push back the deadline to opt-in to pass/fail grading for all four undergraduate schools to April 29, the last day of spring semester classes.

Provost Wendell Pritchett sent an email to all Penn undergraduates on Thursday afternoon announcing the extension and the suspension of the Dean's List for the 2019-2020 academic year, citing student concerns over taking courses for a letter grade. Penn originally announced on March 20 that students would have until April 13 to opt into pass/fail grading for all courses, including those that satisfy major or general education requirements. 

"There will be a notation placed on every undergraduate’s transcript to recognize and honor the extraordinary disruption to the Spring 2020 term and the changes in academic policies," Pritchett wrote.

The email comes just one day after the College of Arts and Sciences sent an email to students alerting them that deadline to change their classes to pass/fail grading was still April 13.

Penn previously had the earliest opt-in deadline in the Ivy League by more than two weeks which prompted significant student criticism and petitions for a later deadline or a mandatory pass/fail grading system. 

The administration's decision comes after a student-led online petition demanding that Penn extend its opt-in pass/fail deadline to the end of the semester garnered over 3,500 signatures at the time of publication. 

At a Council of Undergraduate Deans meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein said the University would consider pushing back the deadline for opt in to pass/fail grading, but did not disclose a timeframe for announcing a decision.

Both the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education and the Undergraduate Assembly presented reports to administrators at the virtual meeting that showed student support for extending the pass/fail deadline based on online surveys.

According to the UA’s survey, moving the opt-in pass/fail deadline back was among the top academic concerns of the 994 students surveyed. College junior and SCUE Chair External Carson Eckhard said SCUE’s survey found that a “strong majority” of the 1900 surveyed support extending the deadline. She added that last week, administrators told SCUE that they were not discussing moving the deadline.

Earlier this week, Brown University extended its deadline to opt in to satisfactory/no-credit grading to May 1, while Cornell University extended its deadline to opt in to satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading to May 12. Both deadlines are the last day of classes for each school. On Tuesday, Yale University became the fourth school in the Ivy League to adopt a mandatory pass/fail policy, after Harvard University, Columbia University, and Dartmouth College implemented similar measures.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Brown University extended its deadline to opt in to pass/fail grading, while in fact Brown extended its deadline to opt in to satisfactory/no-credit grading, which is different from pass/fail. The DP regrets this error.

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