DMACC introduces new pass/fail policy for Spring term, drop deadline extended

DMACC’s Ankeny campus remains closed due to COVID-19. Photo by Cole Griffin

DMACC is introducing a new opt-in system for pass/fail grading. Along with including a designation on all student transcripts that shows that the Spring 2020 semester was affected by the pandemic, students can also submit a request for a pass/fail designation on the transcript instead of the usual letter grade. Students will be required to receive a C- or better in the class to receive a passing grade.

This new policy will only be available for the Spring 2020 semester and students must submit their requests for a pass/fail grade to the DMACC Registrar between May 14 and May 20.  If no request is submitted, then the student will receive the standard letter grade.

The Campus Communication email suggests speaking with an academic advisor or the program chair for the class if they are unsure whether or not a pass/fail designation will benefit them.

Academic Advisor Matt Sprengeler shares this sentiment, saying via email, “ I can’t make a blanket recommendation on who should use the new pass/fail option. Every student is living with unique circumstances … I suggest talking with your academic advisor. Your tuition is literally paying us to help figure out what the right choice is in your circumstances.”

It is also beneficial to seek advice as the new policy won’t necessarily benefit every student. Sprengler said, “What’s more, you have to get at least a grade of C- for it to count as passing with this policy. So some students who could benefit from it are being excluded.”

Students in technical programs and other career programs should consider seeking advice as these courses may have requirements that a pass/fail will not meet. Students who need a grade of C or better as a prerequisite for another class should not elect for a pass/fail, as their transcript will not reflect that they have received an adequate grade.

The drop deadline for standard 16-week courses had also been extended from March 31 to April 15. However, the Campus Communication email urges students to seek assistance from their academic advisor or navigator to help with using Blackboard before submitting their drop request, as a Withdrawal will still affect their completion percentage.

DMACC is instituting these changes to help students succeed academically while keeping student safety as a top priority.

MD Isely, vice president of student affairs for DMACC, stated why they are implementing this policy in a DMACC news release on March 27:  “We know the impact of COVID-19 has created some challenges for our students this semester. In recognition of those challenges, the DMACC Leadership Council wanted to relieve some of the pressure students might feel to maintain a certain grade point average.”

Media Liaison Dan Ivis shared a similar message in an email sent to DMACC students, saying, “We are here to serve you and help make sure you are successful as we move to an on-line learning environment as well as any issues that might arise related to your ability to get food, access technology, discuss personal issues through Counseling Services, address health concerns, and seek academic advising with our Advising Team.”


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