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|Full semester||1.0||Meets regularly throughout one semester|
|Year long||Y||1.0||Meets alternate weeks throughout the year|
|January||1.0 or 0.5||Meets intensively|
|V||Course includes work for extra credit|
To graduate, all students must earn a minimum grade average of B. In addition, all students must earn a minimum grade of B- in the courses required by their programs. For elective courses, D is a passing grade; the student gets credit for the course.
In calculating a student’s average grade to determine whether the student is eligible for a degree, only the required number of credits are included in the averaging process. The grades included in the calculation, however, must include the courses that are required for the degree program in which the student is enrolled. If a student has earned more than the required number of credits, the extra electives in which he or she earned the weakest grades will be dropped.
For example, suppose Jane Doe earned 20 credits, including 8 in the required courses, when only 18 were necessary for her degree. Out of her 12 electives, the 10 in which she received the highest grades would be used, together with the 8 grades in the required courses, in calculating the average. This rule allows students to carry a heavier course load than is required while reducing the risk that it will prevent their graduating.
To determine the average grade, each letter grade is converted to a numerical grade:
All HKS courses except Reading and Research (RAR) courses are graded with letter grades:
RAR courses are graded as SAT (satisfactory) or UNS (unsatisfactory).
The Harvard Kennedy School does not use pass/fail grading in any course. HKS students who cross register into a course in another school must take the course for a letter grade if that option is open.
Note that there is no A+ in the list of grades. Similarly, there is no F; the failing grade is E.
Note that a course in which any of the following grades is received will not be counted toward graduation.
INC (Incomplete): Awarded at the instructor's discretion if the student has not completed all required written assignments by the end of the semester. Receiving an INC means the student has until the last day of the reading period in the following semester to complete the work. In order to extend beyond the last day of the reading period in the following semester the student must submit to the Office of the Registrar a Petition to Extend signed by the faculty member. If the work is not completed and the student does not file a Petition to Extend, the INC becomes a PI, Permanent Incomplete.
PI (Permanent Incomplete): Indicates the incomplete (INC) coursework was not completed or the student did not file a Petition to Extend. The course may not be counted towards graduation.
IP (In Progress): Submitted by the instructor in reporting grades at the end of the fall semester for Y courses (yearlong courses) in which the grade is awarded only at the conclusion of the second semester.
ABS (Absent): Used (1) when a student who has not been excused in advance of the exam by the Registrar fails to attend a final exam, or (2) when a student drops a course but fails to submit a petition to drop.
DRP (Dropped): Indicates the student dropped the course by filing a Drop Petition with the Office of the Registrar.
WD (Withdrew): Indicates the student withdrew from the course as a result of administrative action, usually because the student left the school in mid-semester. This designation is also used when a student drops a January course after the drop deadline.
Students cross-registered into other schools earn grades according to the grading system of that school. For instance, a grade of “II” from the HBS will appear on the HKS transcript as “II.” Grades are not “translated” from one system to another.
The recommended grade distribution for use by faculty who are teaching HKS courses is a recommended range rather than a fixed percentage for each grading category:
|A||A-||B+||B||B- or lower|
|A||A-||B+||B||B- or lower|
|A||A-||B+||B||B- or lower|
Responsibility for grading rests solely with the listed instructor of the course. CAs and TFs do not have instructional appointments and are not authorized by the school to assign grades. Anonymous CA/TF grading invites student concern. Faculty should insist that their CAs and TFs always initial any student work they have graded or critiqued. Only in the situations described below may CAs and TFs be asked to assign grades.
The situations in which CAs and TFs may grade problem sets typically fall into the following categories:
For assignments that are not quantitative (essays, memos, papers), CAs or TFs may assist faculty by doing a “first read,” sorting the student submissions broadly according to quality and commenting on their merits and deficiencies. It is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the CAs and TFs understand what structure and substance the instructor is looking for in a particular memo or paper. Faculty must be solely responsible for grades in any instance where the grade depends on the logic used in arriving at an answer, or where there is a qualitative judgment made about the student’s work. While CAs and TFs may be asked to critique the work, the instructor should always add his or her own comments as well. The school’s standard is that the instructor will always comment on all papers returned to students. Students look for their grades, but they learn more from faculty comments.
CA and TF assistance of the “first read” type is permissible for exams as well as written assignments.
Instructors are responsible for establishing, communicating, and applying grading criteria. Understanding clearly how they will be graded has a significant effect on how students go about their work throughout the semester. (Most students would rather know what the instructor expects before writing the paper rather than finding out when they get their grades.) Hence both the grading criteria and the grading process should be as specific and as transparent as possible. In addition to the major aspects of an assignment or exam, students want to know how the following will be treated in the grading of it:
Grades are not just about scorekeeping -- they are about feedback and learning. It is helpful for students' learning if they have a variety of products on which to get feedback during the semester rather than just one midterm assignment and one final exam or paper. Good feedback early on gives students the encouragement to improve over the course of the term.
The most common bases for evaluation are class participation, memos, problem sets, quizzes, exams, oral presentations, and papers. An instructor may use a single criterion or a combination. In any case, whatever standards are chosen must be covered in the syllabus and communicated to students during the first week of class.
The degree to which participation in classroom discussions is reflected in the final grade depends on the nature of the course and the preference of the instructor. Instructors should be particularly clear about the weight given to it, for many HKS students come from teaching traditions where speaking up in class is neither the norm nor culturally accepted.
CAs and TFs can be helpful to the instructor in identifying those students who do not participate so that the instructor can take extra steps to encourage them. If class participation is a significant portion of the final grade, a CA or TF should be responsible for record keeping.
It is essential to provide students with precise instructions about a memo assignment – what you want them to do, what your expectations are as to how well they should do it, etc. Give each instruction a one- or two-word heading. It will simplify the feedback; when you encounter a weak element in a student’s memo you can simply write “intro ?” or “wrapup?”or “clarity!”, or “Rx?” if the memo falls short on prescription.
Whether assignments take the form of problem sets or written work, taking account of assignment grades in determining in the final grade for a course requires caution on three fronts:
Faculty sometimes give a slightly more generous grade to students who show marked improvement during the semester. If students are aware of that possibility, it helps maintain the motivation of students who did less well than they had hoped on the midterm.
Harvard Kennedy School is a professional school, and as such has a responsibility for teaching professional standards as well as subjective matter. Penalties for late submissions of assignments, papers, and take home exams are entirely at the discretion of the instructor. They customarily take the form of a reduction in the grade for the late work. The syllabus should specify the size of the penalty.
For further clarification on grading and evaluation please contact the Associate Academic Dean.
The Office of the Registrar maintains a website for online grade entry. Instructors log onto the faculty and student portal (SPARKS) to enter grades directly. The instructions to enter grades are in SPARKS, and faculty can login with their HKS intranet username and password. Please refer to Key Dates and Academic Calendar for due dates.
If there is more than one instructor for a class, all instructors will have access to SPARKS. As a practical matter any one of the instructors who holds an HKS teaching appointment may enter the grades. Typically multiple instructors settle among themselves which one of them will handle the grade entry.
The instructor will receive course rosters for jointly listed courses, listing the students registered under the HKS course number and the students registered under the non-HKS number separately. The registrar in each school will provide the roster of the students registered under their respective course number. Faculty teaching HKS students in a jointly listed course will submit the HKS grades through the online grading system. Faculty who are co-teaching a jointly listed course should settle early on who will handle the grade entry; in most cases it will be the instructor from the school where the class meets.
To change a grade once it has been filed, the instructor must file a Change of Grade Report with the Office of the Registrar. Please note that for a change of grade the Office of the Registrar must have the instructor’s signature; a fax or email is not sufficient. Forms are available from the Office of the Registrar.
Students may not ask faculty members to review a final grade once it has been submitted to the Office of the Registrar unless there has been a mathematical miscalculation in the computation of the grade.
Grades are private and may never be posted by student identification number.
Other information which is considered private: any computer printouts, class lists on paper or on a computer, computer display screens, and notes taken during any kind of advising session with a student. Faculty and staff must not allow any students to view, read, or record another student’s ID number while in their workspace. As employees of Harvard Kennedy School, faculty and staff have a responsibility to protect all education records in their possession.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) known also as the Buckley amendment gives students certain rights with respect to the privacy of their educational records. The primary rights afforded are the right to inspect and review the educational records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some measure of control over the disclosure of information contained in the records. For complete details, please refer to the Harvard University FERPA website.
School officials are the only individuals permitted to review student records without the permission of the student. “School officials” at HKS are defined as those members of the institution who act in the student’s educational interest within the limitations of their “need to know.” This may include faculty, administrators, and other employees, including student employees and/or part-time employees who manage student educational record information.
When in doubt, don’t give it out. Contact the Registrar or the Associate Registrar to review the specifics of your individual question or scenario.
To avoid violations of FERPA rules, faculty and staff must not:
Faculty and staff who are related to a student or HKS employees who are parents of a student, or spouses, partners, friends, or relatives of any kind, do not have access to information on these students beyond directory information. If faculty are feeling pressure by any of these parties to comply with a request for information beyond that which can be given out, they should refer the requester to the Office of the Registrar.
The HKS has designated the following items as directory information (i.e. information that can be given out to any requester provided that a confidentiality restriction or privacy flag has not been placed on the individual’s record:
If asked for directory information about a student who has requested a privacy flag, the correct response is “there is no information available on a person with that name.”