The grading process for midterm and final exams requires careful coordination between students, professors, and the Office of the Registrar. Currently, some aspects of these processes unfairly disadvantage some students or deprive students of information necessary to make course decisions. To remedy this issue, the Board urges professors to be more forthcoming in their regrading policies and encourages the Registrar to work with professors to schedule final exams with regrading in mind. To further increase transparency and allow students to make informed choices during the pass/D/fail election period, professors should release some type of midterm grade prior to the deadline to drop or P/D/F a class.
We recommend that professors announce their regrade policy, if any, well in advance of any exam, ideally on the syllabus. For both midterms and finals, some classes allow students to resubmit their exams within a certain window to appeal potential mistakes in grading. This process, known as regrading, ensures that students’ grades do not suffer as a result of errors in grading or of a particular grader. Reasonably enough, professors usually require students to request a regrade within a short period of time after the exam is initially returned. But it is common for professors to only announce such regrading policies after the exam has been taken or only shortly before. Given that exams often happen before breaks, this raises issues for students who have already made travel plans to leave campus immediately after an exam. For instance, a student might leave campus after their last spring final, only to receive an email that exams are available to be picked up and must be returned within a day to receive a regrade. Through no fault of their own, these students are deprived of an opportunity, available to other classmates, to ensure accurate grading of their exams. By informing their classes of opportunities to request regrades long before the exam, professors ensure that all students can potentially benefit from the regrade.
Further, the Board recommends that the Registrar take regrade policies into account when making the final exam schedule. Regrades increase the chance that students receive the grades they deserve, but the timing of exams can prevent professors from offering regrades. Currently, the Office of the Registrar says that the schedule does not take regrades into account because it is created far in advance. The Registrar should require professors to submit regrade information, if relevant, so that the final exam schedule can be created with this in mind. Such a change is desirable because a class that has an exam on the last few days of the exam period simply does not have the time to allow regrades. While this does not pose the same problem of unequal opportunity, it still deprives an entire class of an opportunity to ensure it receives the correct grade, which the professor is willing to grant them. Thus, the Registrar should schedule exams for classes with regrades to occur early in the exam period.
Students benefit from transparency not only in regrading policy, but also in timely releasing of midterm grades. The Board urges classes with midterms to report grades in a timely fashion before the deadline to select the P/D/F option, which is a full three weeks after both fall and spring breaks. In the weeks after midterms, many students are faced with the decision of whether to take a class P/D/F, or, in some cases, whether to drop it. The P/D/F policy allows students the flexibility to take classes in areas they wish to explore, or to adjust if a class is not going as expected. However, for this commendable policy to be effective, students must have an idea of their grades before the deadline to consider this option. Additionally, even in classes with no major midterm assessment or paper, professors should make an effort to give students a sense of their performance up to that point.
Ensuring fair and accurate exam grading and allowing students to make informed choices in deciding whether or not to take a class P/D/F should be important priorities for the University and professors. Increased transparency in regards to regrading policies and timely grading of midterms are straightforward ways to achieve these goals.
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