Office of the Provost

COVID-19 UPDATES

 

Changes to Grading for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021

November 13, 2020

Dear students and faculty,

The past few weeks have been challenging for all of us. I appreciate and admire the resilience you have shown as we monitored the election, witnessed increasing cases of COVID19 around the world and a shelter in place for many of you, managed through varying and sometimes changing course delivery, and were without the usual fall term activities that are such a rich tradition on our campus. I am pleased, too, to know that many of you participated in the Democracy and Debate Theme Semester activities, enriching the campus and the community through your engagement with the election.

I want to thank the many students who, both individually and through Central Student Government, contacted me to share your experiences during this semester. I recognize the enormous stress that comes with balancing your courses, the realities of COVID19, and the myriad other events that have shaped the term.

In this context, I have worked closely with the deans to consider whether additional modifications are needed for our course grading policies for the Ann Arbor campus for the remainder of this academic year (Fall 2020 and Winter 2021).

Undergraduate Grading

In recognition of the challenges and the inequitable way they will affect different populations of students, we have already adopted a revised grading system for undergraduates. As we announced in August, the following adjustments are already in place for the fall and winter semesters:

  • All undergraduate courses are using a modified version of traditional grading in which the regular A-C grading system is maintained but students who earn D or E grades will receive a "No Record Covid (NRC)." Students receiving an NRC can request that it be converted to a letter grade.
  • We instituted a more flexible late drop policy, allowing students to withdraw from a course at any time up until the end of classes and not have the course appear on their official transcript.

However, we recognize that this is a year of uncertainty and thus we should be willing and ready to pivot as the moment requires. As the semester has progressed, we have realized that further modifications would be beneficial to many students. The pressures and stresses described earlier in this email among others impact every aspect of your life. We therefore are in a context where many students are managing circumstances that may mean their performance in courses will not accurately reflect their abilities. Furthermore, it is evident that these challenges will affect different populations of students in inequitable ways. Providing students with additional flexibility to alleviate some of the stress around grades this academic year can help students focus on learning, allowing them to demonstrate their understanding and mastery of the material more effectively.

For these reasons, the following additional modifications to undergraduate grading will be in place for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters:

  • All undergraduate students will have the option to change letter grades of A+ through C- to "Pass." This option is available for all classes.
  • Students will make this decision after the letter grade is posted. The deadline for requesting a change from a letter grade to "Pass" is July 1, 2021 for the Fall 2020 term, and November 1, 2021 for the Winter 2021 term.
  • Students who already elected a fall 2020 course grade as Pass/NRC will have the option to change to a letter grade.
  • This decision will be a one-time election; in other words, a student cannot convert a letter grade to a P and later ask to go back to the letter grade, or vice versa.
  • P grades can be used to satisfy requirements as long as the letter grades earned would meet the requirements. Other academic policies remain unchanged.
  • The requirements for determining various academic honors such as Angell Scholars and University Honors remain unchanged.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to work with their advisors before deciding to convert a letter grade to a "Pass" to ensure doing so does not cause any unintended consequences given degree requirements or future plans.

Graduate and Professional Grading

The Rackham Graduate School is also adopting additional modifications to grading, as reported here. These changes, which reflect grading practices in Rackham programs, will provide Rackham students with a one-time option to change any or all of their letter grades of A+ through B- to S (Satisfactory). Previous modifications to the 2020-2021 Rackham grading policy announced in August, including the notation of "NRC" (No Record COVID) for grades C+ to E, remain in place.

Non-Rackham graduate degree programs and professional doctoral programs will communicate any changes in grading policies directly to their communities.

As we move forward, making these changes is an important part of the university’s commitment to ensuring that our students continue to progress toward their academic goals during this unusually stressful environment. We remain committed to offering the broad array of courses that are the hallmark of a Michigan education and to enhancing the academic experience. Across our schools and colleges, we will continue to provide opportunities that enable students to explore the rich intellectual resources of the university and to dig deeply into the specialized knowledge of their field.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I want to express my gratitude for the many ways in which our community has worked together, learning from each other and contributing to the world, despite the restrictions of the pandemic.

Please take good care of yourselves, and those around you, during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Susan M. Collins
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Edward M. Gramlich Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
Professor of Economics