Incomplete Grade Guidance for Spring, COVID-19 Considerations
April 20, 2020
Challenges brought about by the current COVID-19 situation have raised more questions from faculty and students about grading policies, including grades of Incomplete. To help address these questions, the University is publishing this Incomplete Grade guidance a little earlier than normal.
The University is not changing the policy or general guidance with regard to grades of Incomplete during this situation. However, as with all grading considerations for Spring and Spring 2, 2020, the University is encouraging faculty to be considerate of students’ situations and flexible where possible. For grades of Incomplete, that flexibility may mean including a few more assignments than normal in the consideration to allow a grade of Incomplete.
The policy and guidance is below. Please, again, consider flexibility when students request Incompletes.
Additionally, the videos available in the Webster Knowledge Center, particularly the video regarding New Webster Policies for Grading Flexibility, may be helpful to faculty. The Temporary Adjustments to Policy on Grading for Spring 2020 document and information about withdrawal options may also be helpful. Policy information about student-initiated withdrawals (W) and unofficial withdrawals (WF) maybe found in the academic catalogs (undergraduate catalog and graduate catalog).
Policy information about student-initiated withdrawals (W) and unofficial withdrawals (WF) maybe found in the undergraduate and graduate academic catalogs. While withdrawal deadlines are published in the Academic Calendar, late withdrawals may be requested by students completing this form.
NOTE: Unofficial withdrawals (WF) should be used instead of failing grades (F) only if the student has stopped attending but has not officially withdrawn from the course.
Due dates and submitting grades of incomplete
Spring and Spring 2, 2020, grades are due by Friday, May 15, for undergraduate courses as well as graduate School of Education courses and Friday, May 22, for all other graduate courses.
Grades of Incomplete are an option that faculty may select to allow students to complete their work if the situation is appropriate. Per catalog policy, appropriate situations are those “where the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling.” (The graduate catalog policy is available here, and the undergraduate catalog policy is available here.)
Any faculty member who submits a grade of Incomplete (I) for a student will be prompted to complete the Incomplete Grade Form and provided with a button to access and complete the form.
Please be sure to complete the Incomplete Grade Form whenever a grade of Incomplete is submitted for a student. The Incomplete Grade Form is an important record-keeping and communication tool that allows various offices to complete the necessary procedures to give the student access needed to complete their work. The form also allows other members of the student’s success network to help the student successfully resolve their grade of Incomplete.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
Faculty may connect with teams in the Academic Advising Center and the Academic Resource Center if they have any questions or need any clarification. Some examples of questions received in the past include the following:
- I have a student who has not attended class or completed any work for several weeks? Is an Incomplete appropriate?
- I have a student who is missing most of the required work? Is an Incomplete appropriate?
- I have a student who plagiarized a major paper. Is an Incomplete appropriate?
- I have a student who will need to take the class again in another semester in order to complete all of the content due to extenuating circumstances. Should I file an Incomplete for this semester?
In all of these cases, during a “regular” semester, the answer is no, an Incomplete is not appropriate. However, with regard to the first scenario during COVID-19, a grade of Incomplete may be appropriate. Please consider the student’s specific situation in making that determination.
Even during COVID-19, scenarios 2-4 are not appropriate for grades of Incomplete. Do not submit an Incomplete as the students’ grades or leave the students’ grade as In Progress (IP) in these situations. Instead, submit the appropriate earned grade for the students. If the students then contact you to discuss the grade after it is posted and you want to offer opportunities for the students to successfully complete the course, you still have options.
Feel free to reach out to the teams in the Academic Advising Center by calling 314-968-6972 or 800-982-3847 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with the Academic Resource Center by directly contacting the appropriate member of the Academic Resource Center team, or reach out to Erica Ellard, director of the Academic Resource Center, at 314-246-7702 or email@example.com.
In Progress (IP) grades vs. grades of Incompletes
Some faculty question why it matters if grades of Incomplete are applied or In Progress (IP) grades are left in these situations. In short, these approaches can harm a student’s academic progress, course sequencing, persistence, and graduation/completion. Therefore, the following reminders are important:
1) Do not leave In Progress (IP) grades in the system. Spring and Spring 2, 2020, grades are due by Friday, May 15, for undergraduate courses as well as graduate School of Education courses and Friday, May 22, for all other graduate courses
2) Grades of Incomplete should be used sparingly and only when a student has completed a majority of the coursework and has agreed to the remaining requirements and timeline. Again, though, we encourage a bit more flexibility during COVID-19.
3) Grades of Incomplete should be carefully discussed with students if they are expecting to graduate/complete their programs at the end of the term or semester. Grades of Incomplete may delay students’ graduation/completion dates, and faculty should ensure that these students are aware of the possible delays.
4) An electronic Incomplete Grade Form must be submitted when an Incomplete grade is posted. This form provides the necessary information for other faculty and staff members to support the student as they complete their work. It also provides details necessary for the Registrar’s Office to process the necessary grade changes on the specified dates. To learn how to access the electronic Incomplete Grade Form, access these directions.
Once the forms are submitted, the Registrar’s Office posts the forms in the student’s folder in the Student Success Portal, powered by Starfish, so that faculty and staff members can access the information and appropriately assist the student.
5) When issuing a grade of Incomplete, the faculty member must explicitly state the commitment of the student and the faculty member. The faculty of record is expected to grade submitted work and post a final grade, using a Change of Grade Form, in a timely manner.
6) Students should not be awarded Incompletes in lieu of earning failing grades. If the student stops attending but fails to withdraw properly, the faculty of record should assign a student’s earned grade and/or a WF, not a grade of Incomplete. Incompletes should also not be awarded when faculty members have recommended students to the Plagiarism Prevention Program (PPP).
Step-by-Step Guidance on Incompletes
You can find step-by-step instructions on assigning a grade of incomplete here. See the section under "Incomplete Grade Form" in that document for the best practices.
Using the Student Success Portal, powered by Starfish, to boost successful completion of Incompletes
In order to improve tracking and successful resolution of Incomplete grades, we are leveraging features available in the Student Success Portal, powered by Starfish, including the following:
1) Submitted electronic Incomplete Grade Forms are being uploaded into the Student Success Portal so that faculty and staff members may access the forms and the information they contain.
2) Notes regarding changes to the original agreement for grades of Incomplete (e.g., extended deadlines) and/or administrative changes (e.g., the grade being updated) are being tracked in the Student Success Portal. Faculty members are encouraged to make notes regarding students’ progress with their Incompletes and any changes to the original agreement. It is recommended that faculty also email this information to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure that this information is fully communicated to all relevant offices that support students with grades of Incomplete.
3) A Concerning Grades: Incomplete (I) system flag is raised when a grade of Incomplete is posted, automatically sending a message to each student who has one or more grade of Incomplete posted. This flag remains active until the student’s grade(s) of Incomplete change to an earned or administrative grade.
By more closely monitoring grades of Incompletes and their resolutions and ensuring that all grades are posted in a timely manner, Webster can help students remain on track to meet their academic goals.