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Penn State Law Spring 2020 Grading Policy FAQs

How will courses be graded this semester?  

All Penn State Law courses will be graded on a mandatory credit/no-credit basis.

What does a grade of credit (“CR”) mean?

CR means that you have successfully completed the course and earned credit for it.

What does a grade of no credit (“NC”) mean?

Students will receive a grade of “no credit” only if they would have received an “F” for a course. If students receive a grade of no credit, they will not receive credits for the course and if it is a required course, they will have to retake it.

What about courses that require a C or better for graduation?

For courses that have a graduation requirement of earning a grade of “C” or better (experiential courses, seminars that satisfy the upper-level writing requirement, and professional responsibility), a “credit” grade in a Spring 2020 course satisfies the graduation requirement.

If I get a CR grade in a course, may I use it towards a concentration?

Yes. For purposes of obtaining a concentration, any course in which a student receives credit during Spring 2020 will count towards the concentration, even if the usual requirement is a grade of “C” or better.

Can I still get a letter grade for any of my courses instead of “credit”?

No. All Penn State Law students will receive a grade of either “CR” (credit) or “NC” (no credit) for each of their law courses.

Can I still compete for the CALI award in my courses?

No. Faculty will not give CALI awards this semester because of the reasons for moving to a credit/no-credit grading scheme for Spring 2020.

How will this grading change affect my academic standing and Penn State Law scholarships?

Students who need a certain GPA this semester to remain in good standing will be able to remain in good standing for now and use their Fall 2020 grades to attain the required minimum GPA. A student will only fall out of good standing if the student earns a “no credit” grade in more than one course in the Spring 2020 semester. Students who fall out of good standing have the right to petition for reinstatement pursuant to our current rules for reinstatement available here – https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/current-students/student-academic-handbook/academic-standing-rules/academic-standing-rules. No student will lose Penn State Law scholarship awards unless they fall out of good standing and are dismissed.
 

Will this affect my choice to take a course Pass/Fail in the future?

No. If you have already requested to take a course Pass/Fail for the Spring 2020 semester, you will now be receiving credit/no-credit for that course, and you may take a different course Pass/Fail during a future semester.

Will this affect my GPA?

No. Your GPA will remain the same as it was at the end of Fall 2019 because neither a “credit” nor a “no-credit” grade will affect the GPA calculation.

How does this temporary grading system impact the class rankings?

The class rankings will be calculated at the completion of the Spring 2020 grading period and will be published on each student’s transcript. Class rank may change very slightly based on the total number of students in each graduating class.

Can I still earn graduation honors under this temporary grading system?

Yes. Students graduating in May 2020 will be eligible for Woolsack honors and Latin Honors (cum laude, etc.) if they would have been eligible based on their class rank at the end of either Fall 2019 or Spring 2020.

What if I need certain grades to maintain a scholarship or other sponsorship?  

For students whose sponsoring institutions require grades, we will provide their sponsoring institution with information about the reasons for the changes in this semester’s grading scheme.

What if I am a joint degree student or taking courses outside of the law school?

The Graduate School is implementing an optional alternative grading system for the spring 2020 semester. Under the new grading system, faculty members will enter grades as usual at the end of the semester. Graduate students may choose to keep their grades as received, or request to have one or more grades converted to one of the following alternatives:

  • P (Passing): This grade will be available if a student earns a C or better in a course. Courses graded with a P will appear as earned credits on the graduate transcript.
  • V: This grade will be available if a student earns a D in a course. Courses graded with a V will only count for attempted credits on the graduate transcript, and will not count toward earned credits.
  • Z: This grade will be available if a student earns an F in a course. Courses graded with a Z will also only count for attempted credits on the graduate transcript, and will not count toward earned credits.

Penn State Law will work with any students, including joint degree students, who are taking courses outside of the law school that may be graded differently or who need to count this semester’s law courses towards their graduate degree.  Courses outside of the law school are not included in the calculation of a student’s law school GPA.

Are faculty allowed to change their assignments or exams or other projects at this point?

Yes, but faculty must inform students in writing of any changes to course requirements or grading assessment methods (including the format of the exam) by April 10, 2020.

When will I know the format of my final exams?

Faculty must announce the format of their final exams to students by April 10.

Are all exams going to be remote this semester?

Yes. All exams will be administered as take-home and/or remote exams, via Canvas or other similar means. No in-person exams will be given.

Will “blind grading” still be in place?

If the final exam in your course is designated as a “blind” or anonymously graded exam, then it will still be graded anonymously (also known as “blind grading”). The details of using your blind grading exam number will be explained to you closer to the exam.

Will exams be proctored?

Faculty may choose to proctor their own timed exams remotely by requiring students to take the exam while using Zoom’s video camera function if they inform students in advance.

What if I have technical difficulties while taking my exam? 

You can get help. No student will be penalized for technological difficulties during an exam; if a student does encounter technical difficulties during an exam, the student must notify IIT by emailing help@pennstatelaw.psu.edu during the exam. As necessary, Dean Gardner and the technology team will work with the student and the instructor to devise a plan for the student to have additional time. In extenuating circumstances, where it is impossible for the student to reach IIT during the exam, the student must contact them within 24 hours after the exam and they will work with the student and instructor to come up with a plan to enable the student to complete the course requirements.  

What is the difference between a “timed” exam and a “take home” exam?

Take home exams will be administered as usual.  The exam will be available on Canvas within the Take Home Exam Module at the designated time.  You will then submit your exam responses, as normal, through a Word or PDF file upload feature.  If your course is blind-graded, you will name the file as such: XXXContractsExamSP2020 with the “X’s” to be filled in by your exam number, rather than your name.  

Timed exams will be administered through Canvas at the previously published exam time. Essay and short answer responses must be composed in Word and uploaded as a Word or PDF file in Canvas. If your course is blind-graded, you will name the file as such: XXXContractsExamSP2020 with the “X’s” to be filled in by your exam number, rather than your name.  

What if I am in a different time zone? 

You will need to plan ahead so you can start and stop at the prescribed times in Eastern Daylight Time if you are taking a timed exam.

Will I still get my disability accommodation for my exams and courses?

Yes. For students who receive accommodation, Dean Elkin and the Penn State Students Disabilities Resources office will work together to modify the accommodation as necessary in light of any changes to the course requirements or exam format.

Does the Penn State Law Honor Code still apply?

Yes. Students will be held to the Honor Code for their course work, projects, and exams this semester.