3.19.20: Spring 2020 Semester Grading Options for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students will be able to elect out of the regular grading system and convert a course grade to what we will call the CR (credit) grading system. They can make this choice beginning in April, and any time through to after grades are reported to students at the end of the semester.

Dear Instructors, Staff, and Undergraduate Students,

These have been a trying few weeks for our campus community, and challenges still lie ahead. I recognize there are questions around how we plan to approach grading in this new remote learning environment and the abrupt change from on-campus for the first half of the semester to online for the second half.

Both students and faculty are operating in a dramatically changed environment. Most of us are teaching and learning in different ways. Because of the significance of this great shift, and in recognition of the challenges we face with the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, we are altering the semester grading system for undergraduate students for the Spring 2020 semester.

For undergraduate course instructors, the grading process at the end of the semester will remain the same: Instructors will assign letter grades. Undergraduate students will be able to elect out of the regular grading system and convert a course grade to what we will call the CR (credit) grading system. They can make this choice beginning in April, and any time through to after grades are reported to students at the end of the semester. Students may select credit grading on a course-by-course basis; in other words, a student could retain letter grades for some courses and select credit grades for other courses.

We make this change after discussions with Student Senate representatives, the Educational Policy Committee, the chair of the Faculty Senate, and university leaders. This new grading option applies to undergraduate students only. Graduate students have grading options that already seem to allow flexibility where needed. Faculty and students can review information on graduate student grading options here.

The grading system for undergraduate students will be as follows:

● CR designation: Satisfactory. Replaces grades of C- or better in the regular grading system. Credit is granted for this course, and it will fulfill college and major requirements, even in cases where a grade of P (passing) does not.

● DCR designation: Credit is given, but this grade may not be satisfactory for certain requirements. Credit is granted for this course, while noting that the student’s work would have earned them a D letter grade, had that option been chosen. DCR grades will apply to requirements in the same way that D grades apply in the A-F grading system. Students should refer to the University Catalog to determine whether courses earning D grades will count for prerequisites—e.g., to move from MATH 021 to MATH 022—or count toward a specific major or college requirement.

● NCR designation: No Credit or not satisfactory. Replaces an F in the regular grading system. No credit is granted for this course.

Under the CR grading system:

● Faculty will continue to assess student performance in a course and report a final letter grade as usual. Students will be able to see these final grades in Banner. Faculty will not be able to identify students who have selected the new grading system until after they have submitted their final grades. (Once all grades are finalized, instructors and advisors will be able to see a student’s grades in Banner, just as they do now.)

Beginning in early April, students will be able to convert any course to the new system. They will be able to select the credit grading system for any course until one week after semester grades are released in Banner.

● In cases where students request the new CR course grading system, Registration and Academic Services will then convert the reported (A-F) grades to the new grading system, and a student’s degree audit and transcript will show either CR (credit for satisfactory performance), DCR (credit, but not satisfactory performance for certain requirements), or NCR (no credit earned) for the relevant courses.

● CR/DCR/NCR courses will not count toward the existing limit of six P/F courses in a four-year degree program, nor will there be a limit on the number of Spring 2020 courses that a student may convert to the CR grading system.

● Courses that receive a grade of CR will fulfill college and major requirements, even in cases where a grade of P (passing) would not. This policy supersedes department and college grading policies.

● Grades of CR, DCR, and NCR will not be computed in a student’s GPA. Even if students opt into the CR/DCR/NCR system, letter grades would still be available to the University, and could be used for internal purposes (for example, the pre-health advisor could use them to inform recommendation letters, and they could help inform the Standing on Students Committee in decisions on certain petitions).

● The Office of Registration & Academic Services (RAS) is developing an online method to allow students to register their choices; this process will be described in a separate message from RAS to students as soon as possible.

I expect faculty members to continue to offer rigorous and high-quality courses, and we expect students to continue to be diligent in their learning. I hope that the new credit grade option, alongside the letter grade option, will provide flexibility in what are undoubtedly difficult circumstances.

Regards,

Pat Farrell