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Academic Standards and Related Procedures - JD

URL: https://libguides.law.ucla.edu/academicstandardsjd

A. The Anonymous Grading System

To ensure fairness in final course grades, the School of Law uses an anonymous grading system. In those courses which are graded anonymously (experiential courses and seminars are generally the only exception), students must place only their exam number on the exam or course paper.  Students are therefore also cautioned against writing anything in exams or course papers that is extrinsic to the subject matter of the course, that might develop instructor sympathy, or that has behind it other non-objective motives.  Sometimes anonymity must be broken for some component of the course, as when students are allowed to review their midterm exams with the instructor, or the instructor assigns a paper which cannot be graded anonymously, for a portion of the grade.  In such instances, the Records Office then combines the anonymous and non-anonymous scores into one final grade, which may be adjusted to comply with any applicable mandatory curve.

  1. Anonymous grading imposes reciprocal obligations.  No student shall—on the exam, course paper, or in any other manner prior to the time exam or course grades are officially completed and submitted—purposefully reveal to the course professor facts identifying by name, or otherwise providing information concerning the identity of, the author of a particular exam or course paper.
  2. If a professor determines there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this rule has occurred with respect to an exam or paper in his/her course, s/he shall report this determination to the Dean of Students.
  3. If there is a concurrence in the professor's probable cause determination, the student shall be subject to the provisions regarding student conduct and procedures governing student discipline contained in the UCLA Student Conduct Code.        

B. Grading Scale (1995-Present)

 

GRADE/GRADE POINTS

DEFINITION

A+ = 4.3

 

 

Extraordinary performance

 

A = 4.0

A– = 3.7

Excellent performance

B+ = 3.3

B = 3.0

B– = 2.7

Good performance

C+ = 2.3

C = 2.0

C– = 1.7

Satisfactory performance

D+ = 1.3

D = 1.0

 

Unsatisfactory performance

 

F = 0.0

 

Lack of understanding of major aspects of the course
No credit awarded

 

P

 

Pass (equivalent of C– and above)
Not calculated into the GPA

 

U = 1.0

 

Unsatisfactory (equivalent to grades D+ and D)

 

NC = 0.0

 

No credit (equivalent to a grade of F)
No unit credit awarded

 

LI

 

Incomplete, course work still in progress

 

IP

 

In Progress, multiple term course, grade given upon completion

 

W

 

Withdrew from course

 

Unit credit is awarded for grades “A+” to “D”.  No unit credit will be awarded for grades of “F”.

C. Distribution of Grades

All courses at the UCLA School of Law (with the exception of small seminars and experiential courses, as described below) are subject to a requirement that the median grade cannot exceed a B+ (i.e., 3.3) grade.

First Year Courses:  In addition to the requirement of a maximum median grade of B+, grades for all first year classes must satisfy the following distributional parameters:

First Year Courses

Letter Grades

15% - 20%

A+/A

20% - 25%

A-

25% - 30%

B+

15% - 20%

B

15% - 20%

B- or below

Due to the smaller class size, faculty teaching Law 108A/B – Legal Research & Writing have the discretion to make modest adjustments to this distribution to assure that grades accurately reflect course performance.

Upper Division Courses:  Except as otherwise noted below, grades for all upper division courses must satisfy the following distributional parameters:

Upper Division Courses

Letter Grades

15%–20%

A+/A

20% - 25%

A-

35% - 40%

B+

20%–30%

B and lower

For upper division classes with total enrollment between 25-64 students, individual faculty have limited authority to deviate from this distribution, subject to a sliding scale of faculty discretion based on class size. Within this range of class sizes, faculty have less discretion for larger classes and greater discretion for smaller classes. This approach ensures that classes within the same class size range are subject to virtually identical grading rules. For classes with fewer than 25 students, the distribution of grades shown above is recommended but not required, though in no event may the median grade for the class exceed a B+ (3.3).

Upper Division Seminars, Workshops and Experiential Courses: For courses within these categories with 20 students or fewer students enrolled, faculty have the discretion to assign grades reflecting individual student performance without the limitations described above. For seminars and experiential courses with 21-25 students, the minimum number of B+ (or lower) grades required is 2 multiplied by the number equal to class enrollment minus 20, while a maximum B+ median rule applies to all seminars and experiential courses over 25.

Non-law students enrolled in courses at the School of Law shall be excluded from the grading curve and will not be included in the enrollment count for purposes of determining the applicable curve.

An instructor seeking to deviate from the curve must obtain the approval of the Vice Dean(s) and Associate Dean.

D. Grade for Class Performance/Participation

In addition to the grade determined on an anonymous basis, an instructor may give a grade for class performance.  This grade may be in the form of an increase or decrease, not exceeding one grading unit (e.g., B to B+ or  B–, C+ to B– or to C).  An instructor must announce not later than the end of the first week of instruction that grades for class performance will or may be given.  The announcement may be verbal, included in the syllabus, or posted on the instructor’s webpage. 

The grade for class performance should reflect the quality (as distinguished from mere quantity) of a student’s participation in class discussion.  A student should never be penalized for asking questions.  However, the class performance grade may reflect a student’s attendance, level of preparation for class and/or performance on assigned exercises.  After factoring in class participation, the distribution of grades must still be within the appropriate mandatory curve.    

In courses for which grading is not anonymous, such as seminars, letter-graded experiential courses and “hybrid” courses in which grading is only partially anonymous (determined by a non-anonymous paper and an anonymous exam), participation can count for more than one grading unit.

E. Pass/No Pass Grading System

This system is employed for certain experiential courses, externships (10 or 11 units for the actual placement) and selected advanced courses.

PASS = P

Pass grades shall be disregarded in calculating academic averages.  Unit credit is awarded.

UNSATISFACTORY = U

Unsatisfactory grades shall be assigned a grade of “D” for the purpose of calculating academic averages.  Unit credit is awarded.

NO CREDIT = NC

No Credit grades shall be assigned a grade of “F” for the purpose of calculating academic averages.  No unit credit is awarded.

If a course has not been designated Pass/No Pass by the faculty member teaching it, a student may not elect prospectively to take the course on a Pass/No Pass basis.  (But see the one-time P/U/NC option described below.)

F. The One-Time Retroactive Pass/Unsatisfactory/No Credit (P/U/NC) Option

Students may elect to retroactively convert no more than four (4) semester units of graded credit and no more than one (1) course completed during the second and third years of course work to a Pass/Unsatisfactory/No Credit  basis.  This option may not be used for first year curriculum courses as listed in I.A., even if a student completes one of these courses in the second or third year.

The above option applies to courses in which letter grades would otherwise be assigned.  If the election is exercised:

  1. PASS—Grades of  “C-” or above will be recorded as “Pass (P)”.  Unit credit is awarded.
  2. UNSATISFACTORY—Grades of “D+” or “D” will be recorded as “Unsatisfactory (U)”.  Unit credit is awarded. Grades of “U” shall be assigned a grade of “D” for the purpose of calculating GPA.
  3. NO CREDIT—A grade of “F” will be recorded as “No Credit (NC)”.  No unit or residency credit is awarded.  No credit grades shall be assigned a grade of “F” for the purpose of calculating GPA.

The Pass/Unsatisfactory/No Credit (P/U/NC) option may only be exercised within the short time frame announced by the Records Office after a student has had an opportunity to see the letter grades s/he earned for the semester.  Exercise of the option shall be accomplished by submitting the Retroactive P/U/NC Form to the Records Office by the stated deadline.  A retroactive P/U/NC may never be exercised for Law 340 or 341 (Independent Research) units, but it may be exercised for Law 345 (Independent Project) units.  If a professor prospectively requires that Law 345 credit be taken on a P/U/NC basis, it shall not count as exercise of the student's one-time retroactive P/U/NC option.  If a grade is not available as of the deadline for election of the option, the Dean of Students will extend the deadline until all grades for such students have been turned in.  Students may not obtain a transcript for the semester until they have made a decision concerning their P/U/NC option.

This option once elected shall not be revocable or transferable, even if hindsight proves conclusively that a different choice would have been more beneficial. 

G. Grade Change Rule

Grades may be changed whenever the professor involved is convinced that the grade initially recorded is incorrect because of a clerical, technological or procedural error, discovered after the initial grade was recorded. In each case of a grade change on the above mentioned basis, the professor shall file a written explanation with the Registrar, at the time of filing the change of grade, explaining precisely the nature of the error (“procedural” encompasses “mathematical”).

Assignment of a grade on impermissible, non-academic criteria is a violation of the Faculty Code of Conduct.  A student claiming such a violation may file a complaint with the Dean of the School of Law.  If the matter is not resolved as a result of that complaint process, the student may file a formal complaint with the Charges Committee of the Academic Senate, which has the responsibility to determine whether probable cause of a violation exists.  If the Charges Committee finds probable cause, the matter shall be forwarded to the Committee on Privilege and Tenure to convene a formal hearing to determine if the Faculty Code of Conduct was violated as charged.  If the Committee on Privilege and Tenure determines that an instructor in the School of Law has assigned a grade applying biased or other impermissible criteria, that Committee is requested to so notify the Dean of the School of Law.  Following such notification, the Dean will appoint an ad hoc Faculty Committee to determine whether the grade should be changed.  In making its decision, the ad hoc committee will consider all relevant evidence.  In the event that the evidence does not provide an adequate basis for determining the proper grade, the committee may assign a grade of credit.

H. Retaking Courses

  1. Students shall be permitted to retake three or fewer courses (but not seminars) in which they received the letter grades of “D+” or “D” (unit credit received) or “F” (no credit).  This rule in no way alters the effect of the Five Year Rule.
  2. If a student received the letter grade of “D+” or “D” for a course the first time it was taken, then s/he will not receive unit credit towards total units completed for the course the second time it is taken and another credit grade earned.
  3. If a student retaking a course receives a letter grade of “C–” or better on the retake, the letter grades of “D+”, “D” or “F” (no credit) received initially will continue to appear on his or her transcript, but the new grade will be counted for purposes of scholastic dismissal.  The initial grade and not the grade on the retake will be counted for purposes of computation of class standing, if any.
  4. If a student receives the letter grades of “D+”, “D” or “F” (no credit) on the retake, then both the original letter grade and units and the retake letter grade and units will be part of his or her record in applying scholastic dismissal and other rules, but the student will not receive unit credit towards total units completed if s/he received unit credit when the course was taken the first time.
  5.  First year courses may be retaken only in the student's second year.
  6. The possibility that a grade may be improved on a retake shall not be taken into account in applying the rules on scholastic dismissal.
  7. Questions that may arise where units assigned to a course change, or where the course content changes, or in other situations not expressly covered by these rules, shall be resolved by the Dean of Students, who shall report her decisions to the Standards Committee.  The decision of the Dean of Students shall stand unless it is challenged by a member of the Committee and the Committee decides that the decision of the Dean of Students was unreasonable.
  8. The following chart illustrates the intended operation of these rules in a case where a student retakes a 3-unit course:

Grade First Time

Grade Second Time

Total Units of Credit

Total Units of Letter Grade Recorded

F

F

0

6

F

D+ or D

3

6

F

C- or better

3

3

D or D+

F

3

6

D or D+

D or D+

3

6

D or D+

C- or better

3

3

  1. No course may be retaken more than once.
  2. No student shall be permitted to retake a course under the foregoing rules until s/he first completes an appropriate retake form in the Records Office.  An election to retake a course must be made no later than the fifth day of instruction each semester.