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DRAFT – Grading policy

At next week’s meeting we will form a subcommittee to write an official department grading policy. To give the subcommittee a jump start, I have quickly drafted one that aligns with grading schemes I use in my own classes.

Grading policy for classes with a uniform final exam:

An instructor may decide on the exact grading scheme for their class but grading schemes must adhere to the following department guidelines. Grading schemes must appear on an instructor’s eClass folder.

According to college policy, overall grades as percents align with letter grades according to the diagram:

Final exam

  • The final exam is set by the math department. A student’s final exam grade must count for 20% to 40% of their overall grade.
  • Regardless of a student’s overall grade, they must score at least a 50% on the final exam to pass the course.
  • Students may use calculators during the final exam. They may not use any other devices (for example, they may not use a calculator on their cell phone).
  • Students may not use formula sheets of any kind during the final exam (except for MAT 1272 and MAT 1372???).
  • Uniform scoring guides are available for many classes with uniform final exams and instructors are encouraged to use them. Instructors should contact course coordinators for copies of these scoring guides. An instructor who plans to use a scoring guide for the final exam should align their grading throughout the semester with the guide as much as possible.

Term tests

  • In addition to the final exam, grades for at least three term tests must count toward a student’s overall grade. Together, these term tests must count for 50% to 70% of a student’s overall grade.
  • An instructor who wishes to drop students’ lowest test grades from overall grade calculations must offer at least four term tests throughout the semester in addition to the final exam.


  • Suggested textbook homework problems appear on the course outline and, for classes where is available, WeBWorK (online homework) sets appear on the course outline as well.
  • Instructors are encouraged to have students complete textbook homework and WeBWorK (where available) as part of their overall grade. A student’s homework and/or WeBWorK grades may count for no more than 20% of their overall grade.
  • Learning to write careful solutions is an important part of student success in mathematics. Instructors are encouraged to collect students’ written work and offer feedback throughout the semester (not just on term tests). For example, an instructor using WeBWorK may give regular quizzes where students must show all their work.

Class participation

  • Participating in class is important for student success in mathematics and instructors should encourage students to participate in class whether it counts toward overall grades or not. Instructors are responsible for creating an environment where students can participate.
  • If participation is part of students’ overall grades, the instructor must be very clear of the expectations as part of their grading policy at the beginning of the semester. Such instructors must also create options for students to participate other than simply speaking out in class. Some suggestions for assigning participation credit include
    • sharing written work on the board
    • attending office hours
    • participating in OpenLab and/or Blackboard discussions
    • participating in the WeBWorK on the OpenLab question/answer forum
    • attending tutoring (students should ask tutors for verification slips to return to their instructors)
  • A student’s participation grade may count for no more than 10% of their overall grade.


  • In-depth assignments help students develop critical thinking skills as well as familiarity with course content and instructors are encouraged to assign them.
  • The proportion of an overall grade which is devoted to projects depends on the scope and number of such projects and is at the discretion of the instructor.
  • Many projects have already been created by CityTech math faculty and are available for instructors to use in their own classes. Instructors who are interested in these projects should contact their course coordinator.

Extra credit

  • Extra credit can be a valuable incentive for students wishing to improve their grades, especially at the end of the semester. However, it must be used sparingly.
  • Extra credit assignments must be substantial and must help students master course content and/or develop appropriate skills. They may count for no more than 5% of a student’s overall grade.


  1. Jonas Reitz

    Thanks for putting this together! I wanted to share some relevant resources that may contribute to the conversation —
    Here’s an interesting page from CITLs in Chicago about grading policies at the college level:
    And here’s an academic paper discussing weighting of final exams,

    Looking forward to hearing what the department has to say about it all 🙂

    • Kate Poirier

      Thanks Jonas this looks awesome!

  2. Kate Poirier

    I’m glad so many department members are interested in working on this! I thought I’d comment here to let new subcommittee members know some things that Arna, Caner, and I have already talked about:

    1. This policy would apply only to credit bearing courses with uniform final exams (so MAT 1372 doesn’t belong on the list).
    2. MAT 1272 (and later MAT 2440) may require a separate policy that allows for more weight for projects and less for tests.
    3. We’d like to try requiring that all sections of a course have the same weight for the final exam; we discussed starting with MAT 1275CO. This choice would dovetail nicely with other MAT 1275CO initiatives the department has discussed, like requiring instructors to use the scoring guide on the final exam.
    4. We’re not ready to require a minimum grade on the final exam to pass the course, except possibly for MAT 1275CO, especially if we require instructors to use the scoring guide.
    5. The minimum final exam weight should be 25%, not 20%.
    6. The maximum participation weight should be 5%, not 10%.
    7. We need to add a section on Attendance and WU grades.

  3. Will Colucci

    I like a lot of what’s here thus far, and also agree the final exam should count no less than 25%. I think most of us do around 25 to 30% now for our finals. Much more than that and it risks becoming a “high stakes” exam, which we want to avoid. Plus too high a percentage for the final also devalues the rest of the exam scores.

    I would feel comfortable with less than a score of 40% on the dept final exam being an automatic failure. If someone gets less than that grade, they really do not belong in the next course. We cannot continue to have students scoring 24% on the final and being passed along.

  4. Kate Poirier

    Adding a comment so we remember: we should also include language about students self identifying to Student Support Services for accommodations (including temporary ones).

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