Law School Rules

Chapter 4. Grading Rules For Pre-2005 Matriculants

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4.01 General Grading Rules.

(1) In all courses students shall be graded on a numerical scale from 65 to 95 except as otherwise provided in these rules.

(2) In the following courses the instructor may choose to give numerical grades, letter grades, or Satisfactory-Unsatisfactory grades to all students, or may allow the individual student to elect which of these grading methods shall be applied to him or her: Seminars; Trial Court I and II; Trial Advocacy; Appellate Advocacy I and II; General Practice Course; Advanced Legal Writing; Advanced Criminal Procedure; and Professional Responsibilities. Students who are not working toward a J.D. degree may be given a letter grade in any course.

(3) A student who has earned 25 credits and subsequently receives a grade of less than 70 shall receive no credit for the course, but the grade shall be counted in determining the student's weighted average. A student subsequently shall receive credit for the course if he or she rewrites and earns a grade of 70 or better on the rewrite. The rewrite rules of section 6.09 apply.

4.02 Class Rankings. The Law School will no longer make available, or routinely prepare, student class rank, but will continue to make available a student grade point average, plus a graph of class distribution and an explanatory statement concerning grades.

4.03 Pass-Fail Option.

(1) Faculty members teaching second and third year courses, have the right to decide whether students who enroll in courses they teach may take those courses pass/fail. The decision to make a course ineligible for the pass/fail option shall be made at the earliest possible opportunity. The list of courses for which the pass/fail option is not available shall be posted no later than the end of the first month of classes.

(2) A student who has earned 25 or more law school credits may, for each semester thereafter, select one course from a list of graded courses of that semester to be prepared by the Dean in which the student elects to have the grade reported as provided in paragraph (3), provided that the student is not during that semester taking the General Practice Course. A student may not select more than one course in a particular semester even though the student has failed to exercise his or her option under this section in a prior semester nor may a student exercise his or her option under this section more than four times during the student's law school career. The option will not be available during summer sessions.

(3) In a course selected under this section, a grade of 77 to 95 will be recorded on the transcript as S (i.e., Satisfactory) and so reported to the student; a grade of 70-76 will be recorded as D (i.e., Deficient); a grade of 65 to 69 will be recorded and reported as F (i.e., Failing). Grades of 65 to 69 are governed by Rule 4.01(3).

(4) The numerical grades of 77 to 95 in courses selected under this rule shall be separately recorded and not reported to the student. These letter grades, as well as the parenthetical grades accompanying D, shall be used only to compute cumulative averages for purposes of retention, eligibility for graduation, and certification for admission to the bar under Rule 3.04. The parenthetical grades accompanying F shall be used in computing cumulative averages for all purposes.

(5) The Dean shall post a list of offerings for the semester, in which the instructor is giving students a choice of taking a numerically graded course subject to the pass-fail option. A student who qualifies under Sec. 4.03(2) above shall be entitled to select from the list one course for that semester, regardless of the number of other ungraded credits the student may be carrying.

(6) The Dean may adopt procedures for the making of selections under this section. The deadline for selecting a pass-fail course shall be the last day of classes for the semester.

(7) A non-law student taking a law school course may take advantage of the option afforded by this section if the student submits a letter from his or her faculty advisor indicating the approval of the student's own department. The minimum grade for credit (i.e., Satisfactory) is 72, and only a grade of S or U will be transmitted to the student's own department.

(8) Students may not be given the option of taking either the grade they earned on the examination or an S (Faculty Meeting, May 1, 1986).

4.04 Reserved

4.05 Reserved

4.06 Reserved

4.07 Transcribing Grades. In transcribing law school records the eligibility requirements of the Law School shall be stated, and it shall be further stated that this school operates on a weighted average basis but that if letter grades were used they would be as follows:

Numerical Grade
Approximate Letter Grade Equivalent
Verbal Description
93-95
A++
Truly Exceptional
90-92
A+
Outstanding
87-89
A
Excellent
85-86
AB
Very Good
83-84
B
Good
80-82
BC
Satisfactory
77-79
C
Acceptable
75-76
CD
Significant Weaknesses
70-74
D
Borderline Pass
65-69
F
Failure, No Credit for Course

4.08 Conversion Scale for Intra-University Use.

(1) In translating law school numerical grades into the letter grades used in other departments of the University of Wisconsin, the following conversion scale is recommended:

Numerical Grade Letter Grade
85 - 95A
83 - 84AB
77 - 82B
75 - 76BC
72 - 74C
67 - 71D
Below 66 F

(2) A non-law student who takes a law course or seminar graded on a satisfactory-unsatisfactory basis will have a grade of S or U transmitted to the student's department without any conversion, and a grade of U will mean no credit.

(3) The Law School Administrative Office may convert numerical grades to letter grades in accordance with the conversion scale in Rule 4.08(1) for the purpose of reporting grades for non-law students.

4.09 Reserved

4.10 Grading Consistency in Multi-Sectioned Courses.

(1) Faculty teaching courses for which several sections are offered in the same semester are expected to consult in order to maintain a consistency in the grading patterns of the sections. Consistency can be maintained by agreement in advance to an approximate grading pattern, agreement to follow a pattern set by the first instructor to finish grading, or submission of all grades after all grading has been completed and post-grading consultation has occurred.

(2) Consistency does not require that there be no differences in the grading curves between sections. However, faculty should be convinced that any differences between sections reflects differences in student performance and not just difference in faculty grading patterns.

4.11 Average Grades

(1) For all first year courses, and for advanced classes with an enrollment exceeding 30, the mean grade shall normally fall between 82.5 and 84.0. For advanced classes with an enrollment of 30 or less, the mean grade shall normally fall between 81.5 and 85.

(2) An instructor submitting grades with a mean falling outside the limits prescribed in the preceding section shall provide the Associate Dean with a brief written explanation for the deviation from the prescribed means. The Associate Dean may prescribe a form for the submission of such explanations.

4.12 Grade Distributions

(1) The following table establishes target ranges for the distribution of grades in large and small sections. Large sections are courses or sections with an enrollment exceeding 30. Instructors should endeavor to fit within these ranges in assigning grades, unless circumstances peculiar to that course or the students enrolled in it justify a different pattern.

Grade Range
Large Section
Small Section
65-76
3-13%
0-15%
77-79
7-17%
5-20%
80-84
35-45%
30-50%
85-89
28-38%
25-40%
90 & Above
5-15%
0-20%

(2) The Associate Dean shall study the grading patterns of all instructors. If they deviate significantly from these ranges over several courses, the Associate Dean shall consult with the instructor in an effort to come to some agreement whether the deviations are appropriate, given the subject matter of the course and the type of students enrolled.

4.13 Reporting of Grades.
(1) The Dean's office should prepare and distribute to each instructor at the time grade sheets are distributed a form for the return of grade information to the office, which each instructor shall complete and return at the time the grade sheets are returned. The form should include space for the following information to be filled in by the instructor:
(a) The average and median grades for the course;
(b) A graph depicting the number of times each individual grade was given; and
(c) A brief description of the method of testing or other basis for grades and any explanation desired by the instructor of special or unusual circumstances pertaining to the course.

(2) The form should also contain the following information to be inserted in the form by the Dean's office before it is given to the instructor:

(a) The current combined cumulative average for all the students included on the grade sheet, to the extent that it is available; and
(b) For second-and third-year classes, the whole class average at the end of the previous academic year.
4.14 Distribution and Posting of Grade Information.
(1) At the end of each semester the Dean's office shall prepare and post a grading summary showing for each section of each course:
(a) Course name, instructor and number of students in the course;
(b) Average and median grades and range of grades in the course; and
(c) Such other information as may be deemed significant by the Dean.

(2) The grading summary and a copy of the form completed by the instructor pursuant to Rule 4.13 should be distributed to all faculty members and to the Student Bar Council.

4.15 Grading Grievances.

(1) There shall be no appeal from a grade on the allegation either that the grader misapplied the criteria for grading the exam, or that the criteria were themselves ill-chosen; faculty members should be scrupulously careful in constructing the exam, choosing grading criteria and applying those criteria. Once a grade has been turned in, that grade may be changed only if it is the result of an error in computation, or an error in transcription.

(2) Students who believe they have been the victim of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, or other similarly arbitrary grounds, may seek redress from the office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, with a right of appeal to the Petitions Committee. Disputes concerning the right to, or extent of, any disability-related accommodations shall be resolved using the appeal process set forth as part of the ADA Campus Policies, and shall not be regarded as grading grievances under this section.

(3) A student who wishes to challenge the nature, quality, or fairness of an examination or other graded exercise for a particular course, rather than his or her particular grade on that examination or exercise, may bring a grievance to the attention of the office of the Associate Dean.

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