Minor Change in IE Grading Policy

At the end of the Spring 2020 term, we decided to introduce a new grading policy regarding IE students at risk of receiving a grade under 50 in any of their three main IE courses (Core, Writing, or Active Listening). 

Instructors teaching any of those courses who have students in that category should read the following carefully.

New IE Program Grading Policy

*** Special considerations when a grade under 50 is being considered in IE Core, IE Writing, or IE Active Listening classes*** 


The vast majority of the students are graded consistently by all three IE section teachers, including those who end up failing. We genuinely appreciate how much attention to detail teachers show and the extent to which they uphold the principle of fairness.

Procedural change:

Since the students who do poorly in only 1 out of 3 of their IE sections (Core, Writing, or Active Listening) are rare outliers, we believe they should be given the benefit of the doubt and their grade raised to, at least, 50 after determining that the grade originally proposed diverges from the grades in the other two IE courses by 10 points or more.

This change will require that teachers who intend to give a grade under 50, in one of their IE classes, first…

― Contact the student in question to make sure they understand they may fail unless they fulfill a certain set of requirements that have not been met. REMIND THEM THAT IF THEY RECEIVE A GRADE UNDER 50 IN YOUR COURSE (or in any of the three main IE courses, Core/ Writing/ Active Listening), THEY WILL AUTOMATICALLY FAIL THAT LEVEL OF IE AND WILL NEED TO TAKE ALL THREE COURSES OVER AGAIN.

― Inquire with the two corresponding IE teachers about the student and his/her performance in their courses, cc’ing the IE Program coordinators. If the student is on track to get grades well above 60 in the other two IE sections, STRONGLY consider giving the student the benefit of the doubt and bring the grade up to 50 so that it will be possible for the student’s grade to be determined by an averaging of the three grades rather than leading to an automatic “0” (failure).

If all three of the IE teachers agree that the student deserves a grade of 59 or lower (after averaging), there’s no question that the student has underperformed and all 3 teachers should feel free to give the student any grade―from 0-59―that reflects the student’s actual performance.

Of course, in cases in which the student did not submit any work and/or attend few or no classes, feel free to give the student the grade you believe they deserve, without necessarily contacting the partner teachers or IE Program coordinators. We do appreciate hearing about students like this earlier in the semester when there’s still time for something to be done about the situation.

In all other cases, before actually inputting an IE grade under 50 in the grading portal, contact the IE Coordinators to announce your intention to do so, particularly if your grade will be the outlier compared to the other two. Briefly explain the reasons why you feel that it is fair to give such a grade even through it will mean the student will be required to retake all three of their IE classes, and the grades of the other two IE section teachers will be disregarded for the purpose of grade averaging.  [This may sound intrusive, but it is the IE Coordinators rather than individual IE teachers who are called upon by Kyomuka when students lodge inquiries about their grades. The coordinators must write the rationale on an official form after inquiring with all three of the IE teachers.]

When a student gets grades in the 50s and low 60s in all three sections, and the grade―after averaging―comes out to 58, the explanation is simple: “Failure was due to underperformance in all three IE classes. More effort is needed.” However, when one of the three grades is the low outlier, a more nuanced response must be given to the student and they frequently have trouble accepting it, leading to a prolonged dispute. We would like to avoid this unproductive state of affairs whenever possible.

Note: Please keep in mind that this change in policy will have a negligible effect on the total number of students who fail IE each semester. The vast majority of the students who fail do so through the unanimous and unambiguous agreement of their teachers. That is, when a student gets a low grade in one section of IE, grades in the other two sections are also low in around 98% of cases. It is those 2% of cases that this new policy is meant to address. Those 2% of cases cause us an inordinate amount of time, energy, and aggravation.

It is only IE Core, IE Writing, and IE Active Listening that fall under this policy change, not IE Seminars, Academic Skills, or Academic Writing.  However, due to the large number of students who fail Academic Writing, please inform us (Andrew and Joseph) if you intend to give a grade under 60 in that course as well, particularly if the students in question are in their 4th year of studies and the failure may delay graduation.