We know many of our students have expressed interest in “pass/fail,” Credit/No Credit grading since UTSA moved all Spring 2020 courses online to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus Update: Pass/fail grading

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We know many of our students have expressed interest in “pass/fail,” Credit/No Credit grading since UTSA moved all Spring 2020 courses online to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Upon recommendation by the UTSA Faculty Senate and the UTSA Academic Council, UTSA will adopt an optional Credit/No Credit “pass/fail” grading system for undergraduate and graduate courses for the Spring 2020 semester.

Here is the procedure for this temporary system: Faculty will determine if a course is suitable for a credit/noncredit grade (i.e., “pass/fail”); for courses with multiple class sections, department chairs will confer with instructors to coordinate that determination. It is our sincere hope that each of you will consider offering a credit/noncredit (CR/NC) option, recognizing that doing so offers a meaningful level of relief to many of our students. Despite our best efforts, many students are diligently pursuing their studies in environments that are not as controlled or conducive to learning as the university classroom. Although there certainly are disadvantages to this temporary grading option, we believe it keeps the best interests of our students at the center of our decision making.

The mechanics of executing this temporary grading option are still being worked out. The process basically will be as follows:

  • The Registrar will send each college its course spreadsheet by department, on which the faculty will designate the courses eligible for the CR/NC grading option by April 6. If there is no designation by the faculty, the default is the traditional grading scale – so please keep an eye on your email inbox to respond in a timely manner to designate the CR/NC option.
  • Deans will review and then transmit the spreadsheet to the Registrar for recording.
  • Students will be notified the week of April 6–10 by their course instructors of the eligibility for the CR/NC grading option for the given course.
  • Resources and guidance will be provided by Academic Advising, college Student Success Centers and other offices regarding the respective impact of choosing the CR/NC option versus retaining the regular grading system. Students also will be able to connect with their advisors for additional consultation.
  • Finally, for those designated courses, the individual student will decide whether she or he wants to receive a letter grade or credit/noncredit for the course; the tentative deadline for students to make this decision and inform their faculty is May 8, the last day of classes. If the student does not respond, the default will be the traditional grading scale.

To be clear, this temporary procedure will replace the regular grading system only for students who opt in. Students will be free to choose the eligible courses for which they want to utilize this option. Alternately, those students who prefer to continue to have their work assessed by letter grades in these designated courses can make that choice.

This same temporary adjustment is being implemented at many other universities across the country that, like UTSA, have had to transition to online instruction in response to the pandemic. Other UT System institutions also are adopting similar temporary grading adjustments.

A word about final examinations: Now that we have moved to a fully remote workforce through May 31, final examinations necessarily can be conducted only through remote, virtual or online modalities. That is, final examinations originally planned to be conducted in person and on campus will now need to be re-examined and reformatted as a part of our move to online instruction.

We ask that each of you review your plan for final examinations and think now about any potential adjustments needed to fairly assess students’ course mastery as a part of your consideration of the CR/NC grading option. UTSA does have a digital tool that was developed for online, proctored format (Proctorio) – although it requires technology (webcams), controls computer access to other programs, and is not suited to uncontrolled environments with other distractions, such as family members or extraneous ambient noise.

College Deans have initiated discussions with their leadership and department chairs this week, and they will be providing college-specific ideas, guidance and advice regarding various choices for final examinations conducted remotely that may be useful in your consideration. Please also know that Marcela Ramirez and her team in the Office of Digital Learning are available for assistance, too; you can reach the team by emailing AcademicInnovation@utsa.edu.

UTSA leadership is working now on the specific processes and timeline for how this temporary grading system will be implemented. We thank you for your patience as we do so. As soon as details are finalized, they will be shared via email and on the website, utsa.edu/coronavirus.

As always, we thank you for everything you do to support our Roadrunner students.


Kimberly Andrews Espy, Ph.D.
Peter T. Flawn Distinguished Professor
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Chad Mahood, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication
Chair, UTSA Faculty Senate

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