Disruption Grading Option

In January 2021, Provost Scholz appointed a temporary task force to consider academic policies for this spring, which included faculty, academic staff, students and academic administrators. Based on recommendations from the task force, and with the approval of the University Committee, UW-Madison is implementing a disruption grading option for students for the spring 2021 semester. This disruption grading option was also used in the spring 2020 semester.

View the provost’s message from April 5th.

This policy applies to all students enrolled in courses that award A-F grades, with the exception of Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Law School students enrolled in courses in those programs. The spring 2021 disruption grades and their distinct rules are described below.

At the end of the spring 2021 term, between May 8, 2021 and May 21, 2021, eligible students may choose to convert their letter grade in any course to one of two new grades that have been created:

 

SD (Satisfactory-Disruption) and UD (University Disruption-No Credit). When students choose this option, their letter grade will be converted to one of the two new grades as described below. The SD grade will count for all University General Education, degree/major, certificate, and PhD minor requirements and will satisfy future course prerequisites. The UD will not count for any credit. Neither of the new grades will be included in GPA calculations.

 

Please be sure to refresh this page to view the most up-to-date information.

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Why was this not an option in summer and fall 2020?

With the pandemic continuing for more than a year, the university knows that many students are facing significant negative effects that are cumulative — they have told us so in testimonials and surveys, and we have seen it in the number of students seeking mental health and other services on campus.

The implementation of the disruption grading option for spring 2021 is in recognition of these cumulative impacts of the pandemic, as well as the added challenges posed to students by the cancellation of the traditional week-long spring break. Providing flexibility in grading this semester is one way the university hopes to reduce students’ stress and anxiety.

Additionally, in the transcript memorandum section for any student enrolled at UW-Madison during spring 2020-spring 2021, this standard statement will be applied to recognize the effects of the pandemic on students: “A global public health emergency in spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 required marked changes to university operations that may have significantly affected student enrollment, learning and grading.”

Can I elect to apply a SD/UD grade retroactively to a course I took in summer or fall 2020?

No. The disruption grading option is for spring semester 2021 only. Retroactive changes for summer or fall 2020 will not be considered. Normal grading practices will resume beginning summer 2021.

Why wasn’t the decision to offer a disruption grading option in the spring 2021 made earlier?

Provost Scholz appointed a temporary task force to consider academic policies for this spring in January 2021. The group engaged in careful consideration of student perspectives and experiences as well as grade outcomes from the spring, summer and fall 2020 terms, while also providing opportunities for students to inform the task force decisions. This took time and, once the task force submitted their recommendations to the provost, the decision to  move forward with them was made very quickly.

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If I choose to convert my grades to SD/UD, how will standard letter grades convert to SD/UD?

For Undergraduate, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Master of Genetic Counselor Studies (MGCS), Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Master of Public Health (MPH) and University Special Students:

If a student in the groups listed above earns a C or higher, and opts into the disruption grading option, their grade will be converted to SD; if a students earns a D or F in a course, and opts into the disruption grading option, their grade will be converted to a UD. Spring 2021 grades can only be converted between May 8 and May 21, 2021, after course grades have been posted in the Student Center.

 

For Graduate Students:

If a graduate student earns a B or higher, and opts into the disruption grading option, their grade will be converted to a SD; if a student earns a BC or lower, and opts into the disruption grading option, their grade will be converted to a UD. Spring 2021 grades can only be converted between May 8 and May 21, 2021, after course grades have been posted in the Student Center.

 

For students in the Law School and Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs within the School of Medicine and Public Health:

Student grading will be managed within those programs. Law, MD, or DPT students should consult their dean’s office with questions.

If I choose to have my grade changed to SD, will these courses still fulfill my requirements?

For Undergraduate, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Master of Genetic Counselor Studies (MGCS), Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Master of Public Health (MPH) and University Special Students:

The SD will count for all University General Education, degree/major, and certificate requirements.

 

For Graduate and Capstone Students:

The SD will count for all degree requirements. Courses taken on this basis will also count toward the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence and graduate coursework (50%) credit requirements, as well as certificate and doctoral minor course credit and the minimum or maximum credit load per term requirements.

 

For students in the Law School and Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs within the School of Medicine and Public Health:

Student grading will be managed within those programs. Law, MD, or DPT students should consult their dean’s office with questions.

How does a SD/UD grade impact my GPA?

SD/UD grades are not included in GPA calculations.

How will I indicate I want a SD/UD grade for my course?

The window to elect the disruption grading option will begin on May 8, 2021 and will conclude on May 21, 2021, giving you the benefit of seeing the official grade in your Student Center before you decide. Once final grades are posted to your Student Center, all eligible students can follow the step-by-step guide to convert their grades to SD/UD. Please consult with your advisor if you have questions about whether or not you should convert to SD/UD.

How does the UD grade work?

The UD grade does not satisfy any requirements, it does not count for credit, it is not included in GPA calculations, and it cannot be used to fulfill a prerequisite on a course. Students may retake a course with a UD grade in a subsequent semester and receive credit in that semester. All courses will remain on the record.

How does SD/UD grade impact enrollment for future courses? How does a SD/UD grade affect prerequisite courses?

A SD grade in a prerequisite course will allow a student to enroll in the next course. A UD grade in a prerequisite course will not allow a student to enroll in the next course, since the UD grade does not grant credit for the course.

(Undergraduates Only): I normally get credit for a course if I have a “D” grade, if I convert to a UD I will not get credit. What should I do if I need credit for the course?

If you need credit for the course, you should retain the “D” grade. If you choose to repeat a course after converting to the UD grade, only the second attempt of the course will carry credit and count for your GPA. Speaking to your advisor is highly encouraged in this situation.

(Undergraduate Only): Will there be any changes to the academic standing rules (e.g. probation, strict probation, warning) for the Spring 2021 semester?

Students will not be dropped from the university for reasons of academic standing at the end of the spring 2021 semester, regardless of semester GPA.

If you are currently in good academic standing you will not have a negative academic standing action (e.g. probation, strict probation, warning) placed regardless of your semester or cumulative GPA.

If you are currently on some kind of probation (e.g. probation, strict probation, warning), your academic performance in spring 2021 will be evaluated against your school/college policies and you will either be cleared of the previous action and returned to good academic standing, if eligible, or your fall 2020 probation status will continue following the spring 2021 term. If you are returned to good academic standing, your transcript and ‘View Grades’ page in the Student Center will show “Cleared of Previous Action,” which is UW-Madison’s practice once a student returns to good standing.

(Undergraduate Only): Will there still be a Dean’s List this semester?

Yes. The requirements to be eligible for a Dean’s List will remain the same as previous semesters. To be eligible for a Dean’s List, students must complete a minimum of 12 graded (A-F) degree credits this semester. SD/UD grades do not count towards the minimum of 12 credits. See https://registrar.wisc.edu/deanslist/ for information about school/college dean’s list rules.

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What if I am taking a class that is graded Credit/No Credit?

Credit/No Credit courses are not eligible to be converted to SD/UD.

What if I elected to take a class Pass/Fail at the beginning of the semester?

For Undergraduate, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Master of Genetic Counselor Studies (MGCS), Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Master of Public Health (MPH)  and University Special Students:

Any student in the groups listed above who previously requested a pass/fail grading basis will have that pass/fail option reverted to the original grading basis for the course (most likely A-F). Students will be able to choose to convert the grade they receive to disruption grades during the conversion window. All students who previously elected a course for pass/fail will receive a separate communication notifying them of this change. This allows all students, including those who opted for pass/fail at the beginning of the term, to benefit from the spring 2021 policy and adjusted rules.

 

For Graduate Students:

Graduate students who elected to take a class pass/fail at the beginning of the semester do not have the option to switch back to a graded (A-F) course and do not have the option of electing a SD/UD grade. Students who elected pass/fail at the beginning of the semester will follow the same rules as previous semesters and will have a recorded grade of S or U.

 

For students in the Law School and Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs within the School of Medicine and Public Health:

Student grading will be managed within those programs. Law, MD or DPT students should consult their dean’s office with questions.

I am an undergraduate student but I am taking a graduate-level class. What happens to my grade?

As an undergraduate student you will follow the same rules for all undergraduate classes. If you choose to elect a SD or UD grade, you will need a grade of C or higher to earn a SD.

I am a graduate student but I am taking an undergraduate-level class. What happens to my grade?

As a graduate student, you will follow the same rules that currently apply to your enrollment in undergraduate classes numbered 299 and below and you likely do not need to elect to convert to the SD or UD grade. Courses numbered 299 or below are already excluded from your graduate-level GPA and total earned credits. If you are enrolled in a course numbered 300 or above, you can elect to convert to the SD or UD grade. If you choose to elect a SD or UD grade, you will need a grade of B or higher to earn a SD.

Can I still earn retroactive credit for the foreign language class I am taking with a grade of SD?

A student can earn retroactive credits with a grade of SD, if both the student and the course meet the conditions required to qualify for retroactive credits (https://kb.wisc.edu/ls/page.php?id=23736)

How does the SD/UD option work for courses from UW Study Abroad?

See https://studyabroad.wisc.edu/covid-19-faq/ for information about grading for UW Study Abroad.

(Undergraduate Only): If I choose to have my grade changed to a SD/UD grade, how will this impact my honors requirements?

The SD grade will count for honors program requirements. The UD grade will not count for honors program requirements.

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How will the SD/UD grades be explained on my transcript?

The transcript legend, which appears on every transcript, will describe the SD/UD grades. Additionally, in the transcript memorandum section for any student enrolled at UW-Madison during spring 2020-spring 2021, this standard statement will be applied: “A global public health emergency in spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 required marked changes to university operations that may have significantly affected student enrollment, learning and grading.”

View more details in the student email sent May 3, 2021

Is there a limit on how many courses I can convert to the SD/UD grades this semester?

No.

Do I need to be in good academic standing to be eligible to convert my grades to a SD/UD grade?

No. Any student may convert their grades. Students not in good academic standing are particularly encouraged to consult their academic advisors.

(Undergraduates Only): If I elect SD/UD grades, will they count towards the 16 credits I may take pass/fail during my undergraduate career?

No.

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What if I have a grade of NR?

Any “NR” (Not Reported) grade that exists on your record can be converted to SD/UD once your final grade is posted.  If your final grade is submitted before the May 21, 2021 deadline to elect SD/UD, you will be able to do so via Student Center. If your final grade is submitted after the May 21, 2021 deadline to elect SD/UD, you will receive an email from the Office of the Registrar (RO), informing you that a grade has changed in the specified class(es) and that you have eight-days (your deadline will be included in the email) to inform the RO that you wish to convert that new grade to an SD/UD, based on the conversion table. All you have to do is click on the link included in the email to notify the RO. If you fail to notify the RO within the eight-day window, you will have to appeal to your academic dean’s office to have the grade converted to the SD/UD grade.

What if there is a grade change in the Spring 2021 class?

During the SD/UD election window (May 8, 2021 – May 21, 2021)

If an approved grade change is processed and you already elected an SD/UD grade, when the grade change is posted to your student record, it will override the SD/UD grade and the button to “Convert to SD/UD” is once again active. You can choose to keep your new letter grade or once again convert it to SD/UD.

 

After the SD/UD election window closes (May 22, 2021)

If an approved grade change is processed and you already elected an SD/UD grade, when the grade change is posted to your student record, it will remove the SD/UD grade and the letter grade will be displayed on your student record. If ANY Spring 2021 grade change is processed, and you are eligible for SD/UD grade conversion, you will receive an email from the Office of the Registrar (RO), informing you that a grade has changed in the specified class(es) and that you have eight-days (your deadline will be included in the email) to inform the RO that you wish to convert that new grade to an SD/UD, based on the conversion table. All you have to do is click on the link included in the email to notify the RO. If you fail to notify the RO within the eight-day window, you will have to appeal to your academic dean’s office to have the grade converted to the SD/UD grade.

Can students who receive an incomplete (I) grade from a Spring 2021 course choose a SD/UD grade when they complete the course?

For Undergraduate and University Special Students:

Students will have the opportunity to convert to the new SD/UD grades only after there is a final grade recorded for the course. The Office of the Registrar will email students once a final grade is received and students will have eight days from receipt of that email to convert the grade to a SD/UD grade.

 

All Other Students: 

All students eligible for SD/UD grade conversion will have the opportunity to convert to the new SD/UD grades if they complete the work and receive a letter grade before Dec. 31, 2021. The Office of the Registrar will email students once a final grade is received and students will have eight days from receipt of that email to convert the grade to a SD/UD grade.

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How will employers, graduate schools, and professional schools evaluate SD/UD grades? Will I be at a disadvantage if I elect to convert my grades to SD or UD?

There is no single answer to this question that works for all students in all situations. You should carefully consider your decision to elect SD/UD grades at the end of this semester. Seeking advice from an advisor may help you sort through your decision.

(Undergraduates only) How will SD/UD grades be considered in my application to UW-Madison undergraduate majors or programs?

Programs are planning to be accommodating of SD grades. Check with the program you are applying to for more detailed information on how the grade will be considered.