Grading and Graded Evaluations
Letter grades for courses are determined according to the scale below:
|90.0000 or >||80.0000-89.9999||73.0000-79.9999||<73.0000|
Students must achieve a grade of ‘C’ (i.e., 73.00) or better to pass any course.
It is the policy of the Program that no grade rounding (up or down) will occur. All assignment and exam grades are carried out to four decimal places and the final numeric course grade will likewise be carried out to four decimal places. The grade earned by the student will therefore be the final numeric course grade. The final course letter grade will be the equivalent of the student’s final numeric grade. As an example, as noted above, a letter grade of A = a point grade of 90-100; if Student ‘Y’ receives a final numeric course grade of 89.9999 and Student ‘Z’ receives a final numeric course grade of 90.0000, Student ‘Y’ will receive a B letter grade since he/she did not reach the minimum threshold of 90.0000 required for an A and Student ‘Z’ will receive an A as he/she did meet that threshold. The faculty has decided that this is a more objective evaluation of individual student performance in courses such that a student’s grade reflects EXACTLY the grade she/he has earned in the course.
Grading policies and procedures are identified within course syllabi. In some cases, specific course grading policies and procedures may differ; in such cases, specifics will be noted in syllabi. All rubrics related to grading evaluations are noted within course syllabi and/or the Moodle classroom.
CHALLENGING OF EXAM/QUIZ GRADES
As an exam item analysis is performed on all multiple-choice question examinations, an analysis is performed on all practical examinations, and a similar analysis is performed on short answer and essay examination questions, students are not permitted to challenge examination items for grade change, examination grades, or course grades.
For Individual Readiness Assessment Tests (IRATs)/Group Readiness Assessment Tests (GRATs), the GRAT is considered remediation for the IRAT and, given this, students are not permitted to challenge IRAT/GRAT quiz grades.
- For non-IRAT/GRAT quiz grades, a quiz item analysis is performed similar to that of examinations and, given this, students are not permitted to challenge quiz grades.
EXAMINATION PROCESS AND SPECIFIC EXAMINATION POLICIES
With a goal of establishing and maintaining examination security and best preparing students for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE), the Program incorporates similar test-taking policies and procedures as the NCCPA. These policies include test-taking procedures, absence and tardiness policies, assessment of exam and exam item validity, and remediation.
General Policies and Procedures
- The program carefully schedules all examinations with consideration of class schedules, room availability, timing of other examination, etc. As such, once an examination is scheduled, students may not request changes in examination dates or times.
- Writing or reproducing (including, but not limited to, verbal) an exam or any components of an exam (content, questions and/or answers) represents a student conduct/academic integrity policy violation and full and appropriate consequences will be applied in all occurrences.
- At the time of administration of an examination, PA students must follow all the instructions of the examination proctor and adhere to all program examination policies.
- A student who fails to follow the proctor’s instructions and/or fails to follow all program examination policies, may result in the student being dismissed from the examination. If dismissed, the student will automatically receive a grade of zero on the examination and will not be permitted to retake the examination.
- Any violation of examination and/or student conduct policies, including but not limited to cheating, during an examination will result in an automatic grade of zero for that examination and the student will not be permitted to retake the examination. Additionally, if a student is found to be cheating on an examination, that student will be subject to dismissal as the Program believes this behavior may reflect unethical behavior in future practice as a PA.
- When taking an examination, students are only permitted to have at their exam taking table/station the following items:
- Computer/Tablet on which the student will be taking the examination
- Program provided white-board
- Program provided white-board marker/pen
- When taking an examination, and unless permitted by the exam proctor, students are not permitted to have the following items:
- Audio-visual recording devices, hats, drink containers including water bottles, non-program provided paper or white-board, non-program provided pens or markers, watches of any type, cell phones – even if turned off, backpacks, wallets, purses, or similar items, notebooks, notepads, tissues, handkerchiefs, or similar items.
- Any other items determined by the exam proctor(s) to potentially risk exam security.
- All other items must be placed in a location determined by the exam proctor.
- Generally, student backpacks and non-permitted items will be placed against the wall at the front or side of the room and away from student access
- Unless approved prior to the start of the exam, students will not be permitted to leave the room once the exam has started, including, but not limited to, for use of the bathroom.
- If an exam is longer than 90 minutes, students will be permitted scheduled breaks to use the restroom and water fountains.
- Violating student conduct & professionalism policies at any point during an examination or quiz will result in an automatic grade of zero for that evaluation and this grade cannot be challenged or appealed. Additionally, students violating conduct and professionalism policies during graded evaluations (e.g., written examinations, quizzes, practical examinations, OSCEs, graded papers, H&Ps) are subject to dismissal as the Program believes this behavior may reflect unethical behavior in future practice as a PA.
Time Allotted for Examinations
The NCCPA has a 1-minute per question time allotment for the PANCE (e.g., a 60-question exam is allotted a total duration of 60 minutes). Recognizing that our students are entry-level PA students gaining greater proficiency as they progress through their studies, the Program transitions students to the 1-minute duration rule as follows:
- In the first semester, students will be allotted 90 seconds per written examination question (e.g., a 60-question examination will be allotted a total duration of 90 minutes).
- In the second semester, students will be allotted 75 seconds per written question (e.g., a 60-question examination will be allotted a total duration of 75 minutes).
- In the third semester and beyond, students will be allotted 60 seconds per question (e.g., a 60-question examination will be allotted a total duration of 60 minutes).
Examination Analysis, Grading, Grade Posting, and Remediation
The E&H MPAS program utilizes an formal and rigorous examination analysis via our assessment program software. This program ensures better examination security prior to, during, and after examination delivery, better examination item analysis for effectiveness and integrity, and the ability to release immediate reports to students on individual strengths and weakness for completed written examinations. Given this, the program has the following policies:
- The program does not grade on a curve.
- No written computerized examination grades are final until the examination analysis process has been completed.
- After each student completes their examination, the course director receives or will calculate the student’s per-analysis score.
- Students are not shown their pre-analysis score as this, in the Program’s experience, leads to more stress and anxiety following an exam.
- After all students have completed their examinations, the course director will perform a detailed item analysis. Once the exam item analysis has been completed, exam scores are recalculated (i.e., post-analysis scores) and posted in the Moodle grade sheet for each student. The outcome of examination analysis may result in no changes to the exam, one or more exam questions being discarded, or alternative answers accepted (e.g., rekeying of the correct answer or accepting more than one correct response).
- If a question is discarded, the grade of the examination will be calculated on the remaining questions.
- In rare cases, all students may be given credit for a discarded question.
- To ensure fairness, students will receive the higher of their pre-analysis vs. post-analysis grades (i.e., no grades are reduced following item-analysis; grades will either remain the same as the pre-analysis score, or increase following exam-item analysis).
- Post-analysis grades will vary from between students based on their original performance on the examination.
- As each examination is analyzed for exam item validity, students are not permitted to challenge examination questions for a grade change or challenge final examination grades.
- Unless otherwise noted in the course syllabus, students will not have the opportunity to submit “extra-credit” work or complete an alternative process offering an opportunity to receive a higher score than originally achieved on graded evaluations/assignments (e.g., quizzes, examinations, practical evaluations, papers, projects).
- A passing grade for any evaluation/assignment is represented by achieving a grade >73%. Any grade <73% constitutes failure of an evaluation/assignment and requires remediation for content.
- Once final examination grades are posted, the course director will post grades in Moodle and release exam results to students, including a Strengths and Improvement Opportunities Report.
- The Strengths and Improvement Opportunities Report identifies areas in which re-study is recommended to master the material assessed by the examination.
- Delivery of the strengths and weakness report is considered the first step of the student remediation process.
- The second step of the remediation process would occur when the student re-studies material identified by the report as representing a weakness.
- It is important to understand that remediation does not necessarily include post-remediation assessment.
- After each student completes their examination, the course director receives or will calculate the student’s per-analysis score.
Absence at Time of Examination
- If a student is absent from a scheduled exam, a legitimate excuse must be offered prior to administration of the exam or, in the case of a true emergency, as soon as possible. See the section on this handbook on absences.
- Examinations will be rescheduled only if the absence is formally excused and with the specific permission of the Course Director(s).
- Notifying the Course Director and/or submitting the absence form (Appendix II) in no way guarantees that the absence will be excused, and that postponement of an examination will be permitted. If not formally excused, the student will receive a grade of zero on the missed examination.
- In some cases, reporting of final exam grades to the class may be delayed until all students have taken the exam.
- The date, time, and content of make-up examinations will be determined by the Course Director.
- Unless otherwise determined by the Course Director, make-up examinations must be taken within seven days of the original scheduled date.
- Although make-up examinations will test the same knowledge content as the original examination, the style (e.g., written, oral, skills testing) and type of questions may differ from the original examination as determined by and at the discretion of the Course Director.
- Unless otherwise approved by the Director of Didactic Education, in consideration of recommendations from Course Directors, students are not permitted to receive an excused absence for more than one exam in each course in any semester and more than one final exam in any semester.
- Specific to the clinical phase of the program, unless otherwise approved by the Director of Clinical Education, students will not be permitted to receive an excused absence for more than one end-of-rotation examination for any supervised clinical practice experience (SCPE) course throughout the entire clinical phase of the program.
- Repeated requests for or absences from examinations (i.e., greater than three episodes in the didactic phase of the program and greater than one episode in the clinical phase of the program) is considered to represent an issue with student conduct, professionalism, and or the meeting of technical standards and, as such, may result in consequences as specified other sections of this handbook.
Tardiness at Time of Examination
- Time allocated for examinations will not be extended if a student(s) arrives late.
- In example, if a student arrives 30 minutes late for a 60-minute exam, the student will only have 30 minutes to complete the exam.
- If a student believes the tardiness resulted from a legitimate and unforeseen event, that student has two choices on how to proceed:
- The student may go to the testing site and take the examination in whatever time remains for that examination – extended time will not be given, even if the tardiness is later excused.
- The student may inform the Course Director as soon as possible with the appropriate absence form, and preferably prior to the exam, for a determination as to whether the tardiness is, indeed, representative of an excused absence.
- In such cases, the student will not be permitted to sit for the exam as planned.
- Notifying the Course Director and/or submitting the absence form in no way guarantees that the tardiness/absence will be excused, and that postponement of an examination will be permitted. If not formally excused, the student will receive a grade of zero on the missed examination.
- If the Course Director does not recognize the tardiness as representative of an excused absence, the student will not be allowed to make-up the exam, resulting in a grade score of zero for that examination. Please see “Professionalism Exhibited Through Attendance” for more information.
- At the discretion of the Course Director, tardiness due to legitimate and unforeseen reasons may be considered an excused absence, permitting a student to take a make-up examination. Please see the policies above regarding Absence at Time of Examination.
- Repeated episodes of tardiness (i.e., >3 episodes in either the didactic phase of the program or clinical phase of the program) is considered to represent an issue with student conduct, professionalism, and or the meeting of technical standards and, as such, may result in consequences as specified other sections of this handbook.
Some courses include student assignments with due dates. Due dates will be specified in course syllabi. The following policies apply to late assignments:
- Unless otherwise specified in the course syllabus, all assignments are due on the due date by 4:00pm North American Eastern Standard Time (NAEST) and, when applicable, North American Eastern Daylight Time (NAEDT).
- If submitted any time past deadline, even if submitted on the posted due date for the assignment, the final grade for all late assignments will be automatically reduced by 10%.
- The final grade for late assignments will be further reduced by 10% for each day the assignment is past deadline (including weekends, holidays, and semester breaks).
- Repeated episodes of submitting late assignments (i.e., >3 episodes in either the didactic phase or clinical phase of the program) is considered to represent an issue with student conduct, professionalism, and or the meeting of technical standards and, as such, may result in consequences up to an including dismissal from the program.