Grading Policy -- Fall 2020

Sept. 23, 2020

 Grading Policy:

The fall 2020 JD grading policy is as follows:

  1. We will use our traditional letter grading structure, which includes a mandatory curve for 1L classes and a target mean GPA for upper-level classes. Our standard grading policy includes the option for students to receive a "W" if they are forced to withdraw from a class after the drop/add deadline. It also allows for students to receive an "I" (Incomplete) if they need additional time to complete the course. Finally, the modifications to our traditional grading policy outlined here do not change the process Dean Jordan-Curtis employs for accommodations.
  2. In addition to our traditional grading regime, in fall 2020, JD students can elect to receive a Pass/No-Pass for one or more classes.
  3. To select Pass/No Pass for one or more classes, students must first communicate this intention to their individual instructors by October 16, 2020. 
  4. After communicating with their instructors, students must meet with College of Law Administrators (likely representatives from the Career Development Office and the Academic Affairs team) to discuss the Pass/No Pass option. This meeting is designed to ensure that students understand the potential negative effects of electing Pass/No Pass.  For example, some employers have expressed to the CDO a reluctance to consider applicants who have many Pass/No Pass credits.
  5. After these meetings, students must make a final and binding election of Pass/No Pass by November 6, 2020.
  6. Regardless of whether students elect Pass/No Pass, instructors will grade all exams and student work as if all students were receiving grades under the traditional College of Law letter grading regime. 
  7. In order to earn a Pass, students in the Pass/No Pass regime must receive the equivalent of what would have been a C under the traditional grading regime. 
  8. Credits earned under a Pass/No Pass system will not be considered for class rank.  Only classes graded under our traditional letter grading structure will be used for rankings.
  9. The mandatory 1L curve and upper-level target mean GPA will be calculated for each class based on all of the students enrolled in the class.  For example, if 20 students are enrolled in Criminal Law, all 20 students will be graded on the traditional letter grading system.  If 5 of the students elect to substitute Pass/No Pass for the letter grade, the theoretical letter grade these students would have received under the traditional letter grading system will be used in calculating the mean GPA for the class. 
  10. Finally, this policy does not affect the upper-level graded units graduation requirement.  For example, if a 2L or 3L student is enrolled for 15 graded units this semester, and elects Pass/No Pass for three of those units, all of the 15 units will be considered graded units for purposes of the upper-level graded units graduation requirement.  This is consistent with the policy we implemented in spring 2020, when we adopted a mandatory Pass/No Pass regime. 

We will schedule a Town Hall for students in the coming days to field questions regarding the policy.  

Class Participation:
We've received several questions from students in classes that include class participation as part of the grade.  Specifically, students want to know how participation will be graded for students taking classes asynchronously.  As a reminder, per UA guidelines, students have the asynchronous option this semester.  Thus, if you are incorporating class participation as part of your grading system, you will need to offer alternatives for asynchronous students to participate.  This may mean allowing asynchronous students the opportunity to post reflection papers or discussion posts, but there are other options. 
Most importantly, for those of you who consider class participation in grading, please clearly communicate your policy for both synchronous and asynchronous students.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the specifics of your class, please let me know. 
Jason Kreag

Extra Info

Additional details and guidance from University of Arizona Law on the novel coronavirus COVID-19.