19:49 PM

Message from the Provost: S/U Policy

Dear Colleagues,

This memo offers details for how we will implement the interim S/U grading option. Please review carefully and send questions to your department chair. 

This S/U option for students does not require any instructor to adjust any of your grading expectations, assignments, or, most importantly, course learning outcomes. The S/U grade will be determined based on the letter grade that you assign to a student at the end of the semester. 

This is a student opt-in process: Students may notify you at any time until May 18 at 5:00 pm that they wish to choose an S/U grading option via email (it needs to be in written form). Regardless of this request, you should grade all student work based on the letter-grade grading policy posted in your syllabus.  This will help maintain course integrity and consistency as well as accuracy in any potential grade appeal processes, etc.

Below are the posting and grading deadlines—please note that this is a bit different from our normal process, as we need to allow students to review the grades before official submission to the registrar:

Timeline and Requirements for Grading for Spring 2020

April 30, 2020 - May 7, 2020
  • Final exam period NOTE: students will have multiple exams; to minimize overlap of multiple exams for students, we ask faculty to plan finals using these two principles: 1) follow best practices for online exams by allowing a sufficient window for completion in case of technology issues and 2) ensure, to the extent possible, that the window overlaps the finals time frame originally assigned to any FTF or hybrid classes.
May 13, 2020
  • Faculty post assigned final letter grades in your Blackboard shell for each course by 5:00 pm.
  • Faculty notify all students that final course grades are available for reviewing.
  • (You may make grades available earlier if they are completed.)

May 13, 2020 -

May 18, 2020

  • Students review grades in Blackboard and notify faculty of their request for an S/U option by 5:00 pm on May 18 if they have not already done so. 
  • If students do not contact you in writing by this deadline, then you will issue the regular, earned letter grade. 

May 19, 2020 -

May 23, 2020

  • Official grade entry begins at 8:00 am on May 19 and closes at noon on May 23. 
  • You will enter grades via the regular roster accessed at myUHD. The only difference is that you will have a full array of options for each student: A, B, C, D, F as well as S, U. 
  • Please retain records of all student requests for the S/U opt in for at least 1 year. 

The timeline allows you the full grading period originally assigned for spring semester to complete your spring grades. We also understand that this timeline delays your completion of the semester. However, this method preserves the integrity of faculty authority over grade entry and also avoids a manual entry process after the fact which could delay student grades for several more weeks.

Additional notes:

Encouragement/communication with students: please communicate these plans to students in your classes multiple times over the remainder of the semester.  Also encourage them to talk to advisors before making a choice—there are still a number of professional organizations (e.g., law, medical, education) that have not offered a clear statement of acceptance for S/U grades for students pursuing degrees or work in those fields.

All UHD degree programs must accept grades of S/U for this period, except in cases where independent accrediting bodies for a given discipline specifically prohibit S/U grades.

Use of W grades: Students must make their own choice for a “W”—the drop date has been extended for students until the last class day (April 27). Please encourage students to cite “COVID 19” as the reason. Grades of “W” based on this reason will not count toward the state limit of six.

Use of Incompletes: The current policy describes the incomplete option as being limited to students who “have completed a significant portion of the course requirements and a documented emergency prevents the student from completing the remaining course requirements”— for spring 2020, however, we encourage you to feel free to employ the incomplete under a broader set of circumstances and timelines as you deem appropriate. All recommendations for incompletes remain within the purview of each faculty member. Any incomplete still requires a documented agreement of work to be completed, a due date for completion of work, and a consultation with the department chair. Students will seek your wisdom, of course—incompletes might under the right conditions offer an opportunity for a student to complete the learning objectives for a class that they might otherwise feel compelled to drop because of COVID-related difficulties.

Final Exams: Please prepare for all final exams to occur in an online environment, as we cannot confirm any on-campus testing services. Please follow guidelines in the schedule above for timing of exams. Faculty are encouraged to be innovative in designing assignments, assessments and exams that allow students to demonstrate course and program learning outcomes.

Respondus: If you plan to use Respondus for your finals, please know that Respondus does not work on some tablets, Chromebooks, or workplace computers. Please watch for forthcoming resources on Respondus usage and contact IT particularly if you are considering use of Respondus in the near future for assignments prior to final exams. The CTLE is also a valuable resource for test design for online environments.

We are immensely appreciative of the tenacity and flexibility that you have demonstrated during these unprecedented times. We are stronger together.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.