NIU's sparingly-used pass/fail grading option has been dropped.

The decision to strike the option from the university came on April 11, 2007, at an Admissions Policies and Academic Standards (APASC) board meeting.

The decision was put into place at the start of the fall 2008 semester.

According to page 44 of the 2006-07 Undergraduate Catalog, "NIU offers a pass/fail option to encourage students to explore areas of academic work which they might not otherwise undertake."

Updated versions of the catalog have since been reworded, eliminating the option.

David Wade, Chair of APASC, said the number of students who used the pass/fail option was minimal.

Implementation of the MyNIU system changed the way grades were kept so it wasn't to anyone's benefit to keep the policy intact, he said.

"The advising deans said that the pass/fail option is very infrequently used by students, but it was also a tremendous record keeping burden on the faculty and college side," said Brent Gage, assistant vice provost of Enrollment Services.

Gage said students who received pass/fail credit for a course and later transferred to a different school had difficulty receiving an actual letter grade.

And when a letter grade was handed out, it would often be lower than expected.

"It's a mess to keep track of because the integrity of the records gets a little bit in jeopardy there," Gage said. "In most institutions, in a transfer, [they will] look at pass/fail courses that come in as Ds. So they assume the worst possible outcome with pass/fail courses."

Adam Stone, director of registration and records, said he hasn't heard any complaints about dropping the policy, and little reaction to it all around.

"There are pros and cons to any decision that we make," Stone said. "With pass/fail, it could be helpful to some and harmful to others."

Jay Nichols, a senior political science major, feels dropping the option could be a benefit or a burden depending on who has used it. A transfer student himself, he said enforcing a more traditional grading policy can only be helpful in the long run.

"Pass/fail seems to mainly pertain to transfer students," Nichols said. "So this will encourage them to take classes for an actual grade before transferring here."

Graduate and professional school students have a problem, as well, because the grades they receive after graduating may be different than expected or needed.

Because of that, and other contributing factors, taking out the pass/fail option just made sense, Gage said.