V. Academic Standards

A. Grading

  1. Instructors shall assess the scholastic achievements of their students. (revised 5/12/17)
  2. The law school gives each instructor the option to allow students to type their exams.  If an instructor allows typing, students must use a software program approved for this use by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  This policy does not apply to courses with take-home exams or papers.
  3. The following standards apply to the grading of student work:

a) When practicable and in the students’ best interests, written work must be graded according to procedures designed to assure that during the grading, the identity of the student writer remains unknown to the grader. Courses where the students’ written work may not be anonymous include skills courses, clinic courses, seminars, and supervised research. In other courses, the procedures described below allow for an adjustment of final grades to take into account class attendance and/or performance in the following manner:

(1) The Office of Admissions and Records will provide each instructor with a list of the student exam numbers for each course.

(2) Instructors will grade examinations by exam numbers.

(A) Instructors will submit grades to the Office of Admissions and Records by exam number.

(B) Faculty assistants will then adjust grades where student identification for an adjustment is necessary.

(C) The Office of Admissions and Records will enter the grades on the students’ records.

b) When practicable, work should be graded with a rubric or other equivalent written guidance setting forth for students the instructor’s substantive expectations for the work.

c) Class participation alone must not make up more than 10% of a student’s final grade in a course. However, in seminar courses an instructor may increase the allocation of class participation to as much as 30% of a student’s final grade if that instructor provides written guidance to students on how both the quality and quantity of class participation is scored. (revised 5/12/2017)

  1. Grades are to be assigned by numerical value and numerical values shall be used in computing GPA. Letter grades are listed only so that faculty, students, and employers will know the approximate letter value of each numerical grade

 

4.0 = A

3.9 = A

3.8 = A-

3.7 = A-

3.6 = A-

3.5 = A-

3.4 = B+

3.3 = B+

3.2 = B+

3.1 = B

3.0 = B

2.9 = B

2.8 = B-

2.7 = B-

2.6 = B-

2.5 = B-

2.4 = C+

2.3 = C+

2.2 = C+

2.1 = C

2.0 = C

1.9 = C

1.8 = C-

1.7 = C-

1.6 = F

1.5 = F

1.4 = F

1.3 = F

1.2 = F

 

(Adopted 4/14/2011) (Revised 3/11/19)

  1. An instructor shall not change a student’s grade after submitting his or her final grades to the registrar except for a computational error or for a clerical error in recording the grade or to change a grade of Incomplete to a final letter grade.  (Revised 12/14/04.)
  2. Minimum Required GPA to Remain in Good Standing. To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a GPA of at least 2.30. (Adopted 4/14/2011)
  3. Failing Grades.

a) Grades from 1.2 to 1.6 constitute failing grades in all courses. If a student receives a failing grade, the student will not receive credit for the course.

b) If a course is required, a student who fails the course must retake and pass the course. (Adopted 4/14/2011) (Revised 5/11/2020)

  1. RWA I.

a) Students who receive below a 2.3 in RWA I will be enrolled in RWA I-Enhanced rather than RWA II. A student must receive a grade of 2.3 or higher in RWA I or RWA I-Enhanced to enroll in RWA II.

b) Notwithstanding section V.A.5 above, in RWA I Enhanced a professor may not award a grade from 1.7 to 2.2. (Adopted 12/10/18) (Revised 5/11/2020)

  1. Pass/Fail Courses.  Courses taught on a pass/fail basis are exempt from the mandatory and recommended means. (Adopted 4/14/2011)

B. Mandatory Grade Curve

(Adopted 4/14/2011)

  1. Mandatory Mean in All Courses with 9 or More Students.

a) For all courses with 9 or more students, the mean GPA for the course must fall between 9 and 3.1, with a recommended target GPA of 3.0, subject to the following proviso. (amended 12/10/18)

(1)         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. This proviso does not apply to RWA II.

(2)         The mandatory mean does not apply to the Legal Externship course (effective fall 2014).

b) The 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.

c) The grades of students who receive an incomplete are notincluded in calculating the mean GPA for a course.

d) Notwithstanding section V.B.1.a above, for the RWA courses for repeating students—the Spring RWA I course and the Fall RWA II course—when those courses have 9 or more students, the mean GPA of final grades for the course must be 3.1 or lower. (Adopted 12/10/18)

  1. Recommended Mean in Courses with 1 to 8 Students and Clinical Courses (including the Legal Externship Course).

a) 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 9 and 3.1, with a recommended target GPA of 3.0subject to the same proviso applicable in courses with 9 or more students set forth in section V.B.1.a

(1)         The grades of students who receive an incomplete are not included in calculating the mean GPA for a course.

  1. For all courses otherwise required to comply with the mandatory mean, the instructor teaching the course may petition the Assessment Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and the Associate Dean for an exemption from the mandatory mean. The exemption is only available if all of the following requirements are met:

a) The instructor exclusively uses criterion-referenced assessments to determine students’ final grades in the course. Criterion-referenced assessment measures student performance against a fixed set of written descriptions of what students should be expected to know and do, and it articulates levels of performance. It requires detailed rubrics and is therefore distinguished from grading keys that are used to assign scores to exams.

b) The instructor uses at least three criterion-referenced assessments in the course. In addition, assessment through multiple choice quizzes or exams cannot count for more than 45% of the final grade.

c) An instructor seeking an exemption from the mandatory mean must be able to justify each rubric and each of the descriptions of levels of performance. This justification must point to specific data, most often drawn from past grading experiences compliant with the mandatory mean.

If all three bodies approve the petition for an exemption from the mandatory mean, the exemption is valid beginning in the following semester.

An exemption granted to an instructor for a particular course shall be reviewed by the Curriculum Committee after its third use and shall not be used again without renewal, unless the review is scheduled during the semester the course is offered a fourth time. In this instance, the course may be taught for a fourth time under the original exemption. The Curriculum Committee’s review may include seeking explanation for, or plans for addressing, any recurring, significant deviation from the mandatory mean or any deviation from the requirements for the original exemption. A renewal requires a majority vote of the Curriculum Committee. Further renewals will follow the same timetable and the same review process. (Revised 3/12/18)

This foregoing process for exemptions from the mean (V.B.4) shall be reviewed by the Curriculum Committee and the Assessment Committee Fall 2022, with results reported to the faculty during the academic year of 2022-2023. (Revised 5/12/2017)

  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.
  2. 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, Constitutional Law, or Legal Profession, the professor need not treat the day and night Sections as if they are a single course. (revised 5/12/2017)
  3. Turning in non-complying grades constitutes failure to turn in grades for purposes of the Late Grade Policy.
  4. 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.
  5. Transcript and Website Notation.

a) 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 shall be available on the website. A link to that location shall be included in the transcript notation.

C. Academic Probation

(adopted 5/11/2020)

 If at the end of a full-time student’s second regular semester (fall and spring), or at the end of a part-time student’s third regular semester (fall and spring), that student’s cumulative GPA falls below 2.60, the student will be placed on academic probation.

  1. A student on academic probation shall retain such status until such time as the student’s cumulative GPA rises above a 2.60.
  2. Any student on academic probation is required to meet with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs each semester to develop and implement an academic improvement plan.
  3. The academic improvement plan must be certified by the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs before the student may be allowed to register for the next semester’s classes.

D. Exclusion and Readmission

(Revised 9/12/2011)

  1. Academic dismissal

a) General rule: A student will be automatically dismissed from the school if either:

(1)       After completing one semester of work at this school, the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) is less than 1.80 in all courses taken at this school; or

(2) After completing two semesters of work at this school or any time thereafter, the student’s cumulative GPA is less than 2.30 in all courses taken at this school.

b) Effect of academic dismissal on student currently enrolled:  Dismissal of a student pursuant to subparagraph V C 1 a (1) shall take effect immediately.  Immediate dismissal is required even if, at the time it is determined that dismissal is required, the student is enrolled in classes; and even if the student petitions for readmission.

  1. Eligibility to petition for readmission following academic dismissal:  A student dismissed for academic deficiency, who has not previously petitioned for readmission, may petition in writing for readmission within eighteen months from notice of dismissal, if either:

a) The student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) is 2.10 or higher; or

b) The student has completed only two semesters of law school work at this school and has earned at least a 2.50 GPA in either semester.

  1. Standards for deciding readmissions petitions:  Readmission will be granted only if the student establishes both of the following:

a) The reasons for his or her inadequate performance have been resolved and will not interfere with the success of his or her studies in the future; and

b) It is reasonable to expect the petitioner to be an effective and ethical lawyer after graduation.

  1. Procedures for deciding readmissions petitions.

a) The petition will be granted or denied by the faculty Readmissions Committee, before which the petitioner may personally appear.

b) If the committee denies the petition for readmission, the petitioner may have the committee’s decision considered by the faculty on the basis of the faculty’s knowledge of the petitioner and the petitioner’s written submission.

c) To obtain faculty consideration of an adverse decision of the committee, the petitioner must deliver a written request for faculty consideration to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs within twenty-one days after the date of notification of the committee’s decision.

(1) The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will notify the petitioner concerning the time in which additional materials may be submitted for faculty consideration.

(2) The petitioner may not, however, raise any issue before the faculty that was not previously raised before or considered by the committee.

d) If the petitioner does not make a timely request for faculty consideration of the committee’s decision, or if the faculty denies readmission, denial of readmission is final, and no further petition will be entertained.

  1. Conditions of readmission.

a) The following rules apply to students who are readmitted following academic dismissal pursuant to Academic Rule V.D.1, Academic Rule V.D.2, or their predecessors in prior versions of these rules:

(1) Readmission will be granted on condition that the student begin his or her legal studies anew.

(2) A readmitted student will receive no credit for courses completed prior to readmission, and grades previously earned will be disregarded in computing the student’s grade point average (GPA).

(3) Following readmission, a readmitted student must obtain a GPA of 2.55 in the first semester and a cumulative GPA of 2.55 at the end of the second semester. After the first two semesters following readmission, a readmitted student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.30 at the conclusion of the fourth semester and each subsequent semester (computed without regard to the GPA obtained in the first two semesters following readmission). (Revised 8/18/2014; 9/21/2015; 1/9/17).  If at any time the student’s cumulative GPA falls below the specified minimums, the student will be dismissed and will not be eligible to petition for readmission.

(4) A readmitted student who was readmitted prior to July 1, 2020 must complete at least six of the following seven courses prior to graduation: Business Associations, Commercial Paper Transactions, Criminal Procedure Pre-Trial Process, Decedents’ Estates and Trusts, Family Law, Sales Transactions and Secured Transactions.  Such a student must also complete at least one of the following two courses prior to graduation: Conflicts of Laws and Remedies.

(5) A readmitted student who was readmitted after July 1, 2020, must enroll in and pass all Uniform Bar tested courses.

(6) Throughout a readmitted student’s law school career, the Assistant Dean for Academic Support must approve the student’s schedule in writing before the student can register for classes.

(7) The Committee — or the faculty, if readmission is granted by the faculty following appeal to the faculty — may impose any other conditions on readmission that it deems appropriate.

b) In the case of a student who is readmitted but who has not been academically dismissed pursuant to Academic Rule V.D.1, Academic Rule V.D.2, or their predecessors in prior versions of these rules, readmission will be on whatever terms the faculty Readmissions Committee deems appropriate.

c) A readmitted student who is required to begin his or her legal studies anew will be readmitted to the next entering class in which the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs determines there is space available, unless the Committee or the faculty, acting pursuant to Academic Rule V.D.7.a.(7), requires that the student wait a stated period of time before beginning his or her studies anew.  In no event will a readmitted student be required to wait more than one academic year to re-enter law school.  Unless the Committee or the faculty, acting pursuant to Academic Rule V.D.7.a.(7), requires that the student be readmitted to a particular division, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will determine whether the readmitted student will be assigned to the full-time or part-time division, taking into account the desires of the student, the Associate Dean’s judgment concerning the best interests of the student, and, after consultation with the Chairman of the Admissions Committee, the needs of the Law School.

E. Rules for Deferral of Admission, Leave of Absence, or Withdrawal

(Revised 3/14/2014)

  1. Definitions.

a) Deferral of Admission means a delay in enrollment as a first-year student until the following academic year.

b) Leave of Absence means a temporary absence from the Law School upon specific conditions and for a specific duration as established by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.

c) Withdrawal means an indefinite or permanent voluntary departure from the Law School without completing requirements for graduation.

  1.  Deferral of Admission. A student who has not completed one semester’s work may petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to defer admission until the following fall semester, subject to the following conditions.

a) The student must show good cause for deferral of admission.

b) Upon a finding of good cause, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall grant the petition.

  1. Leave of Absence. Any student in good standing who has completed one semester’s work or more may petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for a leave of absence, subject to the following conditions.

a) A former student who has withdrawn from the Law School may not later petition for a leave of absence.

b) The student must show good cause for a leave of absence.

c) Upon a finding of good cause, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall grant the student a leave of absence for a specific duration, subject to specific conditions as stipulated by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

d) Any leave of absence granted in accordance with these rules does not alter or affect the rule that a candidate for the J.D. degree must complete all course requirements for graduation within seven years of the student’s initial enrollment.

e) A student who has completed one semester’s work or more and either (i) overstays a leave of absence, or (ii) stops attending classes without being granted a leave of absence, will not be considered in good standing at the Law School. Such a student must petition the Readmissions Committee for readmission.

  1. Withdrawal       

a) To withdraw from the Law School, a student must complete and submit a Withdrawal Form to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for approval.

b) A former student who has withdrawn from the Law School and who seeks to be admitted again must file a new application. The Admissions Committee will consider the new application under the admission policy in effect at the time of filing. In determining whether the applicant qualifies for admission, the Admissions Committee will consider the applicant’s previous academic record.

c) A student who withdraws from the Law School before completing one semester’s work may not later petition for deferral of admission under paragraph D.2.

  1. Credit for Work Previously Completed. A former student who withdraws from law school after completing one semester or more, and who is later admitted to the Law School, may apply to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to receive credit for work previously completed in a law school course for which a final grade was given.

a) The Associate Dean will base the decision to award credit upon the quality of the work completed and the length of time elapsed since its completion.

b) The Associate Dean will not award credit for courses in which the student earned a grade below the grade-point average necessary to remain in good standing at the law school where the course was offered, or for any course work completed more than two academic years before the year of admission to the Law School.