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California State University, Fullerton
Titans Return: COVID-19 Recovery

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Credit/No-Credit Grading Basis for Faculty

NOTE TO OUR FACULTY: The following FAQs are designed to describe the spring 2020 grading basis options that will be available to our Titans to help them make the most appropriate grading basis choices amid the COVID-19 disruptions. Procedurally and for all courses except those exclusively established on a CR/NC grading basis, faculty members retain the authority to evaluate students’ final course performance on a letter grade basis (A through F, excluding courses established on a CR/NC grading basis. Students will have the period of May 22 to June 1, 2020 to opt out of the assigned course letter grade and choose its CR/NC grade equivalent. If no choice is selected by the students, the course letter grade will be the default grade. Students will be provided comprehensive advisement and information resources to help them make the best decisions possible, helping them to understand that before they choose they must be made aware of a number of consequences; the CR/NC grading option may or may not be beneficial to some individuals. Opting for CR/NC grades can have numerous effects for certain populations of students (such as veterans, financial aid recipients, students on academic probation, students repeating course to improve a prior grade, re-entry students in Extended Education, student-athletes, students in pre-licensure or credential programs, students in post-baccalaureate programs to prepare for professional school, etc.). Therefore, there will be a comprehensive communication campaign involving outreach by various measures under the CHECK BEFORE YOU CHOOSE! Grading Basis Campaign.

What is grading basis?

Grading in the California State University (CSU) is governed by Title 5 Administrative Code of California Section 40104.01, CSU Executive Order 1037 and systemwide memorandum ASA-2016-08. These policy documents specify utilization of grading designations for letter grades (A through F) and credit/no credit grades (CR/NC), and the use of +/- designations for letter grades.

How are we defining the CR/NC grading basis here at CSUF?

At Cal State Fullerton, for the spring 2020 term (and longer as required), the CR/NC grading basis for undergraduate courses is CR = A through C- grades and NC = D+ through F grades. The CR/NC basis for graduate courses is CR = A through B- grades and NC = C+ through F grades. See Senate Resolution ASD 20-42.

Under what authority can our campus implement the CR/NC grading basis?

The Chancellor’s Office has given campuses the authority to choose their own grading options during the COVID-19 crisis. The CR/NC option is the option that the CSUF Academic Senate and Administration is recommending. An amendment to the Academic Senate Constitution UPS 100.000, Article III, Section 16 provides campus support to temporarily suspend or change implementation of University Policy Statements (UPS) in the event of an extended emergency situation. This amendment is needed to supplant UPS 300.020, Grading Practices, our normal grading practices, in the midst of the spring 2020 COVID-19 disruptions.

Can students select either to keep the final letter grade that I assign or opt for the CR/NC equivalent grade for my class?

Yes. Faculty will determine students’ letter grades as usual. However, for the spring 2020 term (or longer if circumstances dictate), students will have the option to make informed decisions and opt out of the letter grade and take its equivalent CR/NC grade. Since the CR/NC grading basis range is already established, faculty won’t have to complete added steps. If a student opts for the equivalent CR/NC grade, the campus technology process will convert the letter grade to the equivalent CR/NC grade based on the letter grade faculty assign. If the student does not opt for the CR/NC grade, the assigned course letter grade will be the default grade of record for the course. (See Senate Resolution ASD 20-42). The students will select their spring 2020 term grading basis options through their Student Center in the portal.

What is the timeframe for students to opt for the equivalent CR/NC grade for my class?

Prior to the COVID-19 disruptions, a few courses were already coded for CR/NC grade options; however, students were required to opt for the CR/NC grade in such courses by February 4th for the spring 2020 term. Given the COVID-19 disruptions, as outlined in Senate Resolution ASD 20-41, students will have the period of May 22, 2020 through June 1, 2020 to make their final grade option decisions. The students will select their spring 2020 term grading basis options through their Student Center in the portal.

Can students change grading basis options after the spring 2020 term?

Students would need to follow the Records and Registration Retroactive Change of Grading Basis Petition  process to change any spring 2020 grades. This process has a fee, and only CR/NC grades can be changed to equivalent letter grades; a letter grade cannot be retroactively changed to the CR/NC equivalent grade.

Will course withdrawals be handled differently amid the COVID-19 disruption for the spring 2020 term?

For non–medical withdrawals, per UPS 300.016, Withdrawal Policy, students may withdraw from a course after the census date and prior to the last twenty percent of instruction shall be granted for only the most serious and compelling reasons. As outlined in Senate resolution ASD 20-39, the COVID-19 pandemic is a documented serious and compelling non-medical reason for withdrawal. As such, for the spring 2020 term, faculty and department chairs should approve all requested non-medical withdrawals through May 8, 2020.

Per CSU EO 1037, students may withdraw from up to 18 units of coursework attempted at Cal State Fullerton. However, the Chancellor’s Office has suspended specific Sections of EO 1037 (CO Memorandum, April 15, 2020):

Effective immediately, student course withdrawals earned during the spring 2020 semester shall not count against the maxima described in EO 1037 (A.6.a). Students may subsequently repeat a course with a CR grade earned in spring 2020 for a letter grade (B.1). Units earned for a repeated course in spring 2020 shall be excluded from the 16 unit maximum for grade forgiveness (B.2.a). Campuses may allow students to repeat a course taken in spring 2020 even if the student has already attempted the course twice (B.2.b.)

What happens if students just stop attending my class?

Faculty should continue to abide by UPS 300.018, Withdrawal Unauthorized – Issuance of WU Grade, which advises instructors to assign a WU when a student who is enrolled on the census date does not officially withdraw from a course but fails to complete it. The WU symbol is used when, in the opinion of the instructor, satisfactory or unsatisfactory completion of the class by use of the letter grade (A – F) is not feasible. Many students may have stopped attending their courses due to hardships related to COVID-19, and to shield students’ academic record, all WUs will be converted to Ws for the spring 2020 and thus will not impact a student’s GPA (See Senate Resolution ASD 20-39). Guidance from the Chancellor’s Office states that for the spring 2020 semester, Ws will not be counted toward the 18 unit limit normally imposed by EO 1037.

What if a student elects the CR/NC grading basis option before the end of the term and then stops attending my class?

As outlined in UPS 300.018, Withdrawal Unauthorized – Issuance of WU Grade, courses which are graded CR/NC, or in cases where the student has elected the CR/NC grading basis, use of the symbol “WU” is inappropriate and the NC grade shall be used instead.

How can my students complete the required service learning and internships hours requirements given the COVID-19 disruptions?

While UPS 411.600, Policy on Service Leaning and UPS 411.601, Policy on Academic Internships require students to complete a certain number of hours to complete Service Learning or Internships, as articulated in Senate Resolution ASD 20-40, the Academic Senate encourages instructors, department chairs, and deans to collaborate and find alternative assignments and activities to fulfill the Service Learning and Internship hour requirements (if possible) during the COVID-19 crisis. It would be wise for students to check with an advisor to see if the authorities requiring such field work/service learning/internships will find alternatives to be acceptable.

Can I just award Incomplete grades to my students?

Yes, but incomplete grades must be awarded in accord with UPS 300.017, Incomplete Authorized (I) and Incomplete Charged (IC). There are many circumstantial considerations that should be evaluated on a case by case basis.

What about grades for lab, studio and other physical location courses?

This unprecedented disruption to instruction levied by the COVID-19 crisis has introduced numerous grading complexities, including lab, studio and other courses dependent on physical location, equipment and other considerations. See-How can my students complete the required service learning and internships hours requirements given the COVID-19 disruptions?

Can a CR grade satisfy prerequisite and major courses?

Yes, for the spring 2020 term, prerequisite and major courses can be satisfied with a CR.

Where do D+ and C+ grades fall in the CR/NC grading basis range?

A D+ grade or lower will be equivalent to NC for undergraduate classes and C+ grade or lower will be equivalent to NC for graduate classes.

Can students choose CR/NC grading basis options for upper-division writing requirement (UDWR) for the spring 2020 term?

Yes. An amendment to the Academic Senate Constitution, UPS 100.000, Article III, Section 16), gives authority to the Senate and Administration to temporarily suspend or change implementation of University Policy Statements (UPS) in the event of an extended emergency situation. This amendment supplants UPS 320.020, University Writing Requirements and as outlined in Senate Resolution ASD 20-42, a CR will be accepted as meeting the writing requirement for undergraduate and graduate programs.