Appendix D: Grading Scale and Grade Normalization Policy

A.  Summary of Grading Scale and Mandatory Curve

4.0 = A

3.9

3.8

3.7 = A-

3.6

3.5

3.4

3.3 = B+

3.2

3.1 Top of Mandatory Mean Range

3.0 = B Target Mean

2.9 Bottom of Mandatory Mean Range

2.8

2.7 = B-

2.6

2.5

2.4

2.3 = C+ Good Standing GPA

2.2

2.1

2.0 = C

1.9

1.8

1.7 = C- Lowest Credit Grade

1.6 = F

1.5 = F

1.4 = F

1.3 = F

1.2 = F Lowest Possible Grade

Detailed Description of Grading Scale and Grade Normalization Policies

Grades to Be Awarded.  Professors do not award letter grades.  Rather, professors award numerical grades ranging from 4.0 to 1.2.  The following grades shall be used: 4.0, 3.9, 3.8, 3.7, 3.6, 3.5, 3.4, 3.3, 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, 2.9, 2.8, 2.7, 2.6, 2.5, 2.4, 2.3, 2.2, 2.1, 2.0, 1.9, 1.8, 1.7, 1.6, 1.5, 1.4, 1.3, and 1.2.  Letter grades are listed only so that faculty, students, and employers know the approximate letter value of each numerical grade.

Mandatory Mean in Required Courses with 9 or More Students and Elective Courses with 30 or More Students.  For all required courses with 9 or more students and all elective courses with 30 or more students, the mean GPA of final grades for the course must fall between 2.9 and 3.1, with a target GPA of 3.0.

**Note: The grades of students who receive an incomplete are not included in calculating the mean GPA for a course. (Revised 12/8/2011)

**Note: Mean GPA shall be calculated based upon the final grade for the course, including mid-terms, class participation, and any other graded assignments; it is not calculated using just the final exam, final paper, or other final project, unless that is the only manner in which the students are evaluated.

Mandatory Mean in Elective Courses with 9 to 29 Students.  For all elective courses with 9 to 29 students, the mean GPA for the course must fall between 2.9 and 3.1, with a target GPA of 3.0, subject to the following proviso.  If the mean GPA of all students enrolled in the course – based on prior course work at the law school – is lower than 2.9 or higher than 3.1, the permissible grade range for the course shall expand to encompass the students’ incoming mean GPA average, plus 0.1 GPA points if the incoming mean GPA average is greater than 3.1, and minus 0.1 GPA points if the incoming mean GPA average is lower than 2.9.  For example, if the combined GPA of the students enrolled in a course is 3.2, then the GPA range for the course is 2.9 to 3.3.  If the combined GPA of the students enrolled in a course is 2.8, then the GPA range for the course is 2.7 to 3.1.  The registrar shall distribute the total mean GPA of each class to the professor teaching the class by the last day of final exams.

Recommended Mean in Courses with 1 to 8 Students (Required or Elective) and Clinical Courses (Including Externships).  For all courses with 1 to 8 students (required or elective) and all clinical courses (including externships), the mean GPA for the course should fall between 2.9 and 3.1, with a target GPA of 3.0, subject to the same proviso applicable in elective courses with 9 to 29 students.  The registrar shall distribute the total mean GPA of each class to the professor teaching the class by the last day of final exams.

Note: The rules applicable to elective courses with 9 to 29 students also apply to courses with 1 to 8 students (elective or required) and to clinical courses (including externships).  However, for classes in the latter two categories, the parameters set by the rules are merely recommended rather than mandatory.

Multiple Sections of the Same Course.  When a professor teaches multiple sections of the same course and administers the same assessment tool (or tools) in each section – e.g., the same final exam – the professor must apply the mandatory curve across both sections as if the two sections together constitute a single course.  Thus, for example, professors teaching two sections of RWA are required to treat the two sections as if they are a single class.  There are five courses excepted in part from this policy.  If the professor is teaching both the day and night sections of Property I, Property II, Civil Procedure I, Civil Procedure II, or Legal Profession, the professor need not treat the day and night sections as if they are a single course.

Minimum Required GPA to Remain in Good Standing.  To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a GPA of at least 2.30 – i.e., the student must maintain a C+ average.

Grades Below 2.3.  All grades below 2.3 reflect performance that falls below minimum competency.  However, students shall receive credit for the course if they earn a 2.2 to 1.7.  Grades from 1.6 to 1.2 constitute “failing grades.”  The student will not receive credit for the course.  If the course is required, the student must retake the class.

Pass/Fail Courses.  Courses taught on a pass/fail basis are exempt from the mandatory and recommended means.

Enforcement Mechanism.  If a professor turns in non-complying grades, the grades are returned to the professor.  The professor must then re-curve the class.  If the professor chooses not to comply, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall act in his or her discretion to bring the grades into compliance, such as by setting the curve based on the professor’s raw scores.

Note: Turning in non-complying grades constitutes failure to turn in grades for purposes of the Late Grade Policy.

Transcript and Website Notation.  A short description of the law school grading system and curve shall be conspicuously placed on the back of all official transcripts. (Revised 9/12/2011)  The full grading system is a part of the academic rules and thus shall be available on the website.  However, to assist employers and others, the grading system shall be placed in a prominent location on the website.  A link to that location shall be included in the transcript notation.

Transcript Language. The law school uses number grades ranging from 4.0 to 1.2.  Every grade to the tenth of a point within this range may be awarded (i.e., 4.0, 3.9, 3.8, etc.).  The equivalent letter values are as follows: A= 4.0, A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, B = 3.0, B- = 2.7, C+ = 2.3, C = 2.0, C- = 1.7, and F = 1.6 to 1.2.  The law school also utilizes a mandatory curve in all courses with more than 8 students.  Under the curve, the mean (or average) grade must fall between 2.9 and 3.1 with a target mean of 3.0.  For further information on the law school grading scale and mandatory curve, please see    HYPERLINK “http://www.ualr.edu/” www.ualr.edu/. . .

 

Graduation Honors.  The law school shall have the following graduation honors.

Summa Cum Laude – the students ranked in the top 5% of the graduating class

Magna Cum Laude – the students ranked in the top 6% to 15% of the graduating class

Cum Laude – the students ranked in the top 16% to 25% of the graduating class\

 

Effective Date.  The grading scale and mandatory curve shall be effective starting with the Fall 2011 semester.

 

C.  Transition Mechanisms

 

Setting GPA and Class Rank.  The average grade under the prior grading system was just below 3.1 (3.06).  Under the current system, it will be roughly 3.0.  Because those numbers are so close together, no GPA adjustment is necessary for class rank purposes during the transition period.

Good Standing.  To determine whether a 2L or 3L remains in good standing when the student has earned grades under both the prior system and the current system, the student’s grades under the prior system shall be averaged against the student’s grades under the current system.

Example:  The only time the transition will present a problem is if a student is above 2.0 under the prior system and subsequently earns a GPA below 2.3 under the current system.  Suppose a rising 3L in the fall of 2011 – Student M – finished the 20010-2011 school year with 60 credits and a GPA of 2.1 under the prior system.  Then, as a 3L, under the current system, M earns a 2.1 GPA in 30 credits during the 2011-2012 school year.  We average the grades out as follows.  First, under the prior system, M earned “6 GPA points” above the good standing line (60 credits x 0.1 above the good standing line = 6 GPA points).  Second, under the current system, M earned “6 GPA points” below the good standing line (30 credits x 0.2 below the good standing line = 6 GPA points).  We then subtract the GPA points below the good standing line from those above.  If that total falls below zero, then the student is no longer in good standing.  If the total is at or above zero, then the student remains in good standing.  In this hypothetical, Student M is at zero.  Thus, M is in good standing and may graduate.  If M’s GPA under the current system or the prior system were below 2.1 by even a tiny amount, M’s GPA point total would be less than zero.  In that case, M would not be in good standing, could not graduate, and would be administratively dismissed from school.

Graduation Honors.  As noted above, the average grade under the prior system was just below 3.1 (3.06).  Under the current system, it will be roughly 3.0.  Because those numbers are so close together, no GPA adjustment is necessary for graduation honors purposes.

Because some of our students do not pass through the law school at the same rate, we will have students graduating at the same time under two different systems of graduation honors.  That will mean that the graduation program will identify some students as graduating with High Honors or Honors and other students graduating Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, or Cum Laude.  This will likely only happen for one graduation, two at the most.  The issue can be handled with an additional notation in the graduation program.

Transcript Clarity.  For students who attended school under both the prior system and the current system, additional language shall be added to the transcript notation identified above.

Additional Transcript Language. This grading system became effective for the Fall 2011 semester.  Previously, the law school used a letter-grade system.  For information on the prior grading system and the transition mechanisms used, see    HYPERLINK “http://www.ualr.edu” www.ualr.edu.