Attendance and Grading Policy (COVID-19 Response)

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Southwestern’s Attendance Policy will continue to apply to participation in remote classes.  Given the coronavirus pandemic, we do understand that the circumstances of some individual students will require greater flexibility in the application of our Attendance Policy. 

For students who miss class due to illness in this period, please rest assured that medical absences are given great weight in the application of Southwestern’s attendance policy.  However, please understand that flexibility is unlikely to be extended to any individual who exhibits a lack of honesty and truthfulness.

If you have any questions about the application of Southwestern’s attendance policy, please contact the Dean of Students Office.


SPRING 2020 Grading Information-April 1, 2020
 

(From Dean Susan Prager and Vice Dean Dov Waisman)
[T]he faculty concluded its deliberations and reached a final decision about how grading will be handled this semester in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting us all.  While we don’t have all of the allied issues clarified as yet, because we know the grading issue is very much on your minds, we wanted to apprise you of this decision today. The grading decision we have made is one designed to empower each one of you to make the choice that seems best for you.

How will we be graded this semester?
In the Spring 2020 semester and in SCALE I Period 4[1], subject to certain exceptions (see below), you will have the option for each course in which you are enrolled to receive a letter grade or to receive a grade of Credit or No Credit.[2]  Your professors will grade your exams/papers/projects and assign letter grades as they usually would, subject to all of the applicable grading policies set forth in the Student Handbook.  Your letter grades will be posted via WebAdvisor.  You will then have a choice to make for each course you took this semester:  Do you want to stick with the letter grade that you’ve received in that course or do you want to convert your letter grade to a grade of Credit or No Credit?  If you choose the latter option for a given course, any grade of D- or higher will be converted to a grade of Credit and any grade below D- will be converted to a grade of No Credit. 

How does Credit/No Credit grading work?
If you receive a grade of Credit in a course, you will receive unit credit for that course and the course will count toward satisfying your graduation requirements.  If you receive a grade of No Credit in a course, you will receive no unit credit for that course and the course will not count toward satisfying any graduation requirement.  Thus, if you receive a grade of No Credit in a course that is required for graduation, you will need to retake the course.   Courses graded on a Credit/No Credit basis appear on a student’s transcript but are not factored into a student’s GPA.

Can I choose a letter grade in some of my spring courses and a Credit/No Credit grade in others?
Yes.  You will exercise your Credit/No Credit option individually for each of your courses.  You can choose Credit/No Credit grading for none of your spring courses, for all of your spring courses, or for any number of courses in between.

Are there exceptions?
Yes.  As noted above, there is a small group of spring semester courses in which student work was complete or virtually complete before the COVID-19 crisis intensified.  These courses will be letter-graded and there will be no Credit/No Credit option available.  Here is the list of courses in this category:

  • LAWS Faculty, Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills II
  • Professor Boiron, International and Comparative Copyright Law
  • Professor Dorff, Capstone: Representing Entrepreneurs
  • Professor Strader, Capstone: Complex Criminal Litigation

Any class this semester that would ordinarily be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis will continue to be graded in that manner.  For such classes, there will be no option to receive a letter grade.

How will my Spring 2020 semester GPA and cumulative GPA be calculated?
Your spring semester GPA will be calculated based on the spring courses in which you elect to receive a letter grade.   Grades of Credit and No Credit do not count toward your GPA.   If you choose Credit/No Credit in all of your spring semester courses, you will have no spring semester GPA and your cumulative GPA will remain the same as it was after fall 2019.   If you choose to receive a letter grade in one or more of your spring courses, those grades will be reflected in your spring semester GPA and your cumulative GPA.

How will Spring 2020 semester grades appear on my transcript?
For each of your Spring 2020 semester courses, your transcript will display either a letter grade, a grade of Credit (if you exercise your Credit/No Credit option for that course and your letter grade is D- or higher), or a grade of No Credit (if you exercise your Credit/No Credit option for that course and your letter grade is below D-).   If you opt to have one or more of your spring courses graded on a Credit/No Credit basis, your transcript will carry a notation for this semester explaining that students were allowed to opt for Credit/No Credit grading in each of their courses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

What do I need to do to receive a grade of Credit in a given course?
Although individual course requirements and expectations vary, generally to receive a grade of Credit: you must take and submit the exam or submit the paper/project on time; your exam/paper/project must clearly demonstrate a good-faith effort to complete the exam/paper/project to the best of your ability, and the totality of your work on all exams/papers/projects assigned in the course must be of D- quality or better.

Will the Spring 2020 semester courses I opt to be graded Credit/No Credit count toward the limit Southwestern imposes on the total number of Credit/No Credit units a student may have?
No. 

What if I have other questions about how grading will be handled this semester or about related issues?
We know there are a number of related issues that many of you are interested in and concerned about, including final exam format details, scholarships, rankings, probation and disqualification, and the journal write-ons, just to name a few.  We will be providing guidance on these allied issues via email no later than Monday of next week.  If you have questions after reviewing both this email and the forthcoming one, please contact Vice Dean Dov Waisman at dwaisman@swlaw.edu.

In reaching this decision, we have tried to empower each student to consider and choose what is best for them based on their individual circumstances, rather than imposing on everyone a single solution.  Because we know that your goal is to become a member of the Bar, we hope this flexibility will enable each one of you to maximize what you are able to gain from this semester.

All the best,
/Dean Susan and Vice Dean Dov/


[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all references to the “Spring 2020 semester” or “spring semester” should be understood also to apply to SCALE I Period 4.

[2] There are two exceptions to this.  First, because nearly all of the work was completed by students in LAWS II prior to the intensification of the COVID-19 crisis, LAWS II will be letter-graded without the option to convert the grade to one of Credit/No Credit.  Second, any course that would ordinarily be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis will be graded Credit/No Credit.